TITLE: Doctor Foster
GENRE: Drama (like, HIGH drama)
STARRING: Suranne Jones, Thusitha Jayasundera, Jodie Comer, Bertie Carvel
PRODUCTION COMPANY/DISTRIBUTION/COUNTRY: BBC/UK
RATING: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (out of 5)
WHERE CAN I SEE IT? Netflix, Amazon and Google Play
Doctor Foster came recommended via a podcast, Conversation Street, which covers the long-running soap Coronation Street. I’m way overdue turning people on to Corrie but I mention it here because, some great (and not-so-great) actors start out on the cobbles of Corrie and then strike out for broader acting fields. Suranne Jones, the Dr. Gemma Foster of the show’s title, played a memorable character on Corrie so that was my incentive to see what’s up with Dr. Foster. Moving from soaps to dramas can either go really well for British actors or go left in amusing but sad ways. Luckily for us, Suranne J. is a baller so this show cracks on at a good clip with her riveting acting. She’s riveting in the, “What’s this mad chick gonna do next?!” way.
Here’s why she driven a bit nutty. Dr. Jones is a general practitioner in a quaint, English village that seems to have avoided the commercialization of its high street (no Starbucks and a decent pub that hasn’t been taken over by a chain). But the village isn’t untouched by the vagaries of the National Health Service so we see Dr. Foster as the senior partner in her practice who’s patient with the local hypochondriac and firm with the drug-seekers during eight minute appointments.
A non-spoiler since it’s in all the episode descriptions is that shit gets cray when Dr. Foster begins to suspect her husband is having an affair. How Gemma gets at the truth, and what she decides to do about the truth, is where her life begins to unravel. They’ve relocated from London to her husband’s hometown, so their friends have known him all their lives. But that doesn’t mean they’re loyal to him nor to one another.
Standout characters include her sneakily insecure husband, Simon, and her friend and partner in the medical practice, Ros. Jones plays especially well with and against these characters. Dr. Foster quickly moves from sussing out who Simon is having it away with to the chess pieces Gemma needs to play if she’s going to get out or stay in her marriage.
At work in the show is a sideways critique of smart, ambitious women who move from London, which is where she and Simon met, to England’s suburbs and villages. Are they “domesticated” by having kids, doing the school run and cheering at their kids football matches? What’s at stake is her dignity. And finding out who knew what, when did they know it and who she can trust. Jones is bright and a bit devious in the role but also you empathize with her desire to keep her family intact. She learns, for example, that her husband once described her to his friend as “feral.” She’s a proud woman, though, not untamed.
The U.S. version of Dr. Foster was on Lifetime, and had the jackass subtitle A Woman Scorned (please, Lifetime, STAHP IT). That might be a red flag for some but I guarantee, Dr. Foster is pretty edgy viewing when compared to the other tat on that channel (season one of Unreal would be the exception). The version that’s available Stateside collapses five hour-long episodes into three hour and twenty-eight minute episodes. I don’t know what they cut, but with Amazon, you can watch the U.K. version and I’d recommend that. You can catch every cussing out, every nuance and manipulation Dr. Foster executes.
I can’t tell you much more without ruining it — that seems to be a running feature of these reviews, which says more about drama today than my inability to describe a show. But what I can say is that the plot twists don’t seem implausible 85% of the time. And the plot twists that you don’t see coming? My gawd are they worth waiting for! I’m not even going to share my favorite quote because I want you to be as surprised and delighted as I was by what a complete SAVAGE Dr. Foster turns out to be.
Check out Dr. Foster sooner rather than later. Series two starts in the U.K. September 5th. No word that I can find yet on the U.S. airdate. Likely, it’ll be early 2018. In the meantime, I’m checking out everything Suranne’s done after Corrie because as her BAFTA Award, for Doctor Foster shows she’s, as I texted a friend, da baddest bitch I’ve seen in a long time on TV. And that’s coming from a Cersei, Arya, Lady Oleanna stan.