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The Gentlemen

The gentlemen season 1





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Eddie Halstead never asked to be a duke. He never asked for a 15,000-acre estate or a priceless art gallery or a well-stocked and expensive wine cellar.

But now, with his father’s death, it’s his, along with all the problems that go with it: the sky-high taxes, the home repairs, the somewhat disgruntled servants.

Oh, and the illegal marijuana operation taking place in his expansive back yard. Yeah, that’s a problem.

Or, maybe … an opportunity.

A Deed … and Some Weed

The former Duke of Halstead, Eddie’s father, knew all about the marijuana operation—growing like a weed in his backyard, you might say. He didn’t bother much with it: He was just the landlord, taking in millions of pounds for his discretion. Ms. Susie Glass runs the business and runs it well. And given that the British marijuana industry brings in a total of about 6 billion pounds a year, she’s done pretty well for herself.

The new Duke of Halstead isn’t thrilled with the grow operation. But he’s in a bit of a pickle himself. He’s not just saddled with this monumental estate, but with Freddy, his man-child of an older brother.

Freddy was none-too-pleased about his inheritance being given to his younger brother: But given that Freddy would’ve squandered that inheritance on cocaine, gambling and a litany of other predictably bad choices, it seems that their father made a wise decision.

But here’s the thing: Freddy not only has a drug habit and a gambling habit, but he has a habit of falling in with very bad people—and then making them mad. And then, every so often, he murders one. That’s a bit of an issue, because those very bad men have some very bad friends and family.

So, yes, Eddie could probably use a few folks with, shall we say, questionable character in his corner, too. Ms. Glass and her associates fit the bill nicely. And if she and Eddie are quite lucky, they might survive the season. Or, if Netflix has its way, three or four of them.

But it promises to be a brutal journey—for both Eddie and the viewer.   

The British Accents Don’t Make It Better

Netflix’s The Gentlemen, created by Guy Ritchie, takes place in the same universe as his 2019 film of the same name. The film revolved around a sprawling marijuana empire—with the cash crop being grown on the lands of Britain’s impoverished nobility. Ms. Glass’s operation is apparently one tentacle of that empire.

It’s an interesting premise, and the movie starred the usually likable Matthew McConaughey. But according to our reviewer Emily Tsiao, the film itself was significantly less likable. “There’s very little gentle in The Gentlemen,” she wrote.

I’ve not seen the movie. But if it’s anything like the TV show, boy howdy, was she right.

The world that Eddie has fallen into is nasty and brutish, with lives often cut quite short. People get gunned down, their gore plastering the mahogany furniture and delicately wallpapered decor. Others are beaten to bloody nubbins. The dialogue contains every American and British profanity you can think of, including one word I actually had to look up.

And, of course, the whole world here is awash in all manner of illegality, most especially drugs. And while the marijuana operation seems to be meant to minimize the crimes that Eddie and Susie take part in—given that the drug is either legal or decriminalized throughout much of the United States—that’s hardly cause for celebration.

In fact, it’s all played for laughs.

Eddie never asked to be a duke. He never planned for the estate. He certainly never thought he’d be in bed with a bunch of drug dealers. Alas, he doesn’t really have a choice now.

But we viewers? We do have a choice. And might I suggest that we bid The Gentlemen farewell.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 7, 2024—S1, E1: “Refined Aggression”

Eddie, a soldier on a UN peacekeeping message in Turkey, rushes home to the family estate when he learns that his father, the Duke of Halstead, is near death. But before the elderly gentleman dies, the duke tells Eddie, “The estate is not to be carved up,” and to “look after your brother. He won’t survive without you.”

Curious thing to say, Eddie might’ve thought, given that the estate was surely going to go to his brother, Freddy. But the family discovers that the Duke willed most of the Halstead keepings to Eddie, the second son, instead. It’s a serious blow to Freddy’s prestige. And, he later admits, it might get Freddy killed. Seems he owes 8 million pounds to a family of cocaine dealers. But Eddie discovers that the estate is more solvent than he expected—thanks to an illegal marijuana operation taking place underneath one of the estate’s barns.

A man is killed with a shotgun. While the blast takes place off camera, the smattering of gore is dutifully filmed. A man is beaten. Again, the beating takes place off camera, but the guy’s bloody body is pulled outside, so that the victim can apologize to someone he cheated. A boxing match is predictably violent and ends with someone being knocked out. We see heads cut off of fish.

A character snorts a great deal of cocaine while dressed as a chicken. Ms. Glass, the operator of the grow operation taking place on Eddie’s property, takes Eddie on a tour of her facilities, and we see a great deal of still-growing marijuana. Characters drink and sell wine. They also quaff whiskey and other beverages, and one character seems to get some “liquid courage” after imbibing several drinks. Someone tells Eddie that the old duke’s wife might’ve been “dipping her beak into Dad’s meds.”

A Christian funeral involves a priest talking about “the God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Freddy rails about Eddie getting the Halstead title and estate. “It’s the will of God the firstborn gets everything!” he says, oddly pointing to Cain and Abel as an example. When the lawyer who’s reading the will insists that Eddie is still the rightful heir, Freddy says he should take the matter “up with God! Divine mother—-ing providence!” (He also calls Eddie “Judas”.) Ms. Glass talks about a pair of drug-dealing brothers, including one nicknamed The Gospel. She says that they believe they have “God on their side.”

The old duke reminisces about his ancestors, including one that killed “15 Frenchmen before lunch” and then shot his foot off. Another was found running naked at some juncture. Ms. Glass introduces Eddie to her brother. His main vice, she says, is that he sleeps around a lot. (Her actual words are more crude.) In the will, the duke grants his daughter a weekly allowance until she marries. “A man,” the will stipulates. The size of a man’s genitals is discussed.

The f-word is used more than 60 times, the c-word is used twice, and the s-word is used five times. We also hear “a–,” “b–tard,” “c–k” as well as a number of profanities more typical in Britain, including “b–locks” and “tw-t.” God’s name is misused once, and Jesus’ name is abused twice.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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