Taboo is a mini series that was released back in 2017 but I only got a chance to watch it earlier this year. Within a week I had watched it, loved it and talked about it so much that I watched it again with Eva. The second watch just confirmed to me that this was a perfect eight episodes of television. Right from the first shot you can tell that visually this show is going to be impeccable. As the show progressed I was so impressed and invested by all of it, the world that we get deeply plunged into is fascinating. The show is set in London in 1814 and it really captures the chaos of civilization in a time where the world is still a wild and uncivilized place. Not that were all that civilized now, we’re just under more surveillance these days.
The show follows James Keziah Delaney played by Tom Hardy. Delaney has just returned from Africa where he spent the last decade. He returns seemingly from the dead for his father’s funeral and this spark ignites the explosion that is this series. Tom Hardy brings such an intensity and grittiness to this hardened man who’s debauchery is well known and we get a glimpse into some of his actions while travelling around Africa. James Delaney is one of those characters and Tom Hardy is one of those actors where it just clicked and instantly I had to see what he would do next.
Taboo has an amazing cast surrounding Hardy also. With Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, Michael Kelly and Stephen Graham being standouts to me. Jonathan Pryce is a great character for Delaney to be going up against. Pryce plays Sir Stuart Strange who is very high ranking in the East India trading company and his past with Delaney is excellently written and performed.
Taboo has some dark themes from cannibalism, ultraviolence and incest. That’s not what I loved about the show but the willingness to have characters engage in these acts impressed me so much. As the audience we are thrown into the middle of it all and I enjoyed piecing the puzzle together over the eight episode run. At times it feels as if we see Delaney fighting the King, The Americans and the East India Trading company while trying to come out on top. The stakes are as high as they come here, from around any corner you could be beaten or murdered. The craft on display is truly breathtaking and so striking to me as an audience member. I’m gripped anytime I watch this show even talking about it now makes me want to watch it again.
While watching this show it made me remember The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford. Taboo is visually so striking and the cinematography is so incredibly beautiful that the juxtaposition of that beauty with the violence and horror on the screen creates what seems like magic. The music on Taboo was remeniscent of the other worldly feel that Nick Cave created for that film. The combination of these two aspects alongside with a tight and well written script and powerful performances created some of the greatest television I’ve ever watched in my life. With my favourite shows and miniseries I look at individual seasons and I put Taboo right next to Season 2 of the Sopranos, Season 1 of True Detective, Season 4 of breaking bad and as good as any miniseries currently streaming or from the past.
Taboo was amazing and I’m hoping against all hope that we get a second season of this show. If we never get a chance to revisit this world then so be it as it does tell a full story however it seems like there’s a lot of story left to tell going forward. I honestly can’t recommend this one enough, it’s intense and brooding but it’s also beautiful and heartbreaking at times too. Steven Knight, Tom & Chips Hardy really wrote something very original and special with this one.