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The critically acclaimed police procedural and period drama Ripper Street is an outstanding show that has recently completed its fourth and penultimate season. Set in Whitechapel directly after Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror in ‘88, the police at H Division, led by Inspector Reid, find themselves locked in a never ending battle against the evils lurking in the streets.
This show lends itself extremely well to binge-watching, as there are many excellent reasons to start watching and none to make you stop. Here’s why:
1. Time Travel Really Does Exist
Have you ever wished you could venture back in time to Victorian England, to experience the alluring world of corsets, horse drawn carriages and scientific innovation? Ripper Street’s highly detailed recreation of late 19th century London is about the closest thing to stepping through a time machine.
From the opening scene of Episode 1, Ripper Street effortlessly transports you to the streets of Whitechapel. From the characters’ remarkably authentic accents, to the lavish costume and set design, the sights and sounds are wholly immersive.
While not always strictly historically accurate, Ripper Street on no occasion ceases to be believable. Never sugar coated, the London of Ripper Street is a far cry from the romanticized version so often portrayed in other period dramas. Here, buildings are run down and grimy, smog fills the air and one can almost smell the sewage in the streets. This is Whitechapel in all its infamous sordid glory; a place where crime is commonplace, beggars fill the streets and prostitutes struggle to make a living.
Once you enter this world, you will not be wanting to leave anytime soon.
2. It Is Profoundly Realistic
Much more than simply a show about the villainy of Whitechapel, Ripper Street presents life in a manner that is unapologetically honest. It is undeniably dark and gritty, unafraid to show the depths of evil that man, or woman, can descend to. Yet, it is never gratuitous. If it shocks or offends, it only does so because we have grown accustomed to viewing a sanitized version of life on screen. However, it is not all dark and depressing and you will find yourself surprised by the resilience, strength, and kindness that exists even in the most despicable of places.
Ripper Street’s characters are so real, it’s hard to remember that they are played by actors and don’t actually exist. Their lives are raw and messy, but never overly dramatic. More importantly, they are realistically affected by the world they live in. Unlike shows where characters fight enemies with nary a hair out of place, in Ripper Street they are frequently bruised, disheveled and distraught.
You will be immediately captivated by Ripper Street’s refreshing lack of pretense and will find it hard to return to the highly contrived world of other shows.
3. The Cast Is Perfection
Each character, however minor, is given the screen time necessary to shape them into complex and highly flawed human beings. Every acting performance is truly outstanding; intense and heartfelt.
The central trio consists of Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) a brilliant investigator consumed by rage and sadness; Sargent Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) a kind and thoughtful man seeking to escape his violent past; and Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), an American army doctor whose secrets threaten to be exposed. Their relationship builds naturally and never feels scripted.
Then there’s Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) who struggles to carve a place for herself in a male dominated society as the owner of a brothel, and Rose Erskine (Charlene McKenna) a prostitute who dreams of a life on stage.
When the show begins, you are dropped right into their lives and are left to piece together their complex backstories along the way. Watch one episode, and you won’t be able to stop until you’ve watched a whole season. Or three.
4. It Ticks All The Boxes
Ripper Street truly has something for everyone. Horror fans will delight in the gore and gruesome violence, mystery aficionados will be racing to solve the crimes ahead of Inspector Reid and his team, and romance lovers will be captivated by the characters’ often tragic and always complex love lives.
Interested in drama? Ripper Street has more than enough subplots and mysterious backstories to get hooked on. Like comedy? You’ll be laughing at the subtle slapstick humour and Jackson’s crazy antics. Plus, the dialogue between Jackson, Reid and Drake is always gold. Meanwhile, history enthusiasts will admire the exceptional level of detail in everything from the plot to set design.
Start watching, and you are sure to find a reason get hooked on the show.
5. It Never Ceases To Astound
Each episode is excellent on its own – perfectly paced and brilliantly executed. Each case tackles a different aspect of society, painting a wide picture of the fabric of life in Whitechapel. Yet, each season also has its own overarching plot; a theme that binds the individual episodes together, allowing a complete story to be told.
Historical details are expertly woven in along the way and Ripper Street never ceases to challenge you with its complex approach to topics such as homosexuality, prostitution and urban development. Concerned with the evils that lie in every person’s soul, Ripper Street continually questions what drives people to murder and what turns good men into criminals.
It is super addicting and cliff-hangers abound, so good luck watching just one episode.
Give Ripper Street a try and it may just surprise you by becoming your favourite show!