Review: Brief Encounters

Angela Griffin, Penelope Wilton, Sophie Rundle, and Sharon Rooney in Brief Encounters

It’s hilarious how repressed the Brits were about sex in 1982. At least in public. Brief Encounters tells the story of four women who wade into that repression as Ann Summers party plan saleswomen and turn their worlds upside down.

Starring Angela Griffin, Penelope Wilton, Sophie Rundle, and Sharon Rooney as the main characters, Brief Encounters is warm and funny and heartfelt. Unfortunately there are only 6 episodes of the 2016 series. I could stay with these women and their crazy problems for much longer.

Being American, I’d never heard of Ann Summers parties. They are like Tupperware parties, but for sex toys and sexy lingerie. The men of this Yorkshire area were losing work. The women were looking for ways to pick up the slack. Ladies-only parties were the answer!

Angela Griffin, Penelope Wilton, Sophie Rundle, and Sharon Rooney in Brief Encounters

Steph (Sophie Rundle) was married to Terry (Karl Davies). They had a son, but were not getting along. Then Terry cheated on Steph with Lisa (Gina Bramhill), his brother Barry’s (Kent Riley) wife. They tried to work things out for their son, but it wasn’t easy.

Steph fell for a cop named Johnny (Ben Bailey Smith), further complicating matters.

Nita (Angela Griffin) was married to Kieren (Don Gilet). They had a ton of kids with another one on the way. Kieren was involved in shady activities and prone to trouble.

Dawn (Sharon Rooney) was engaged to Russell (Will Merrick). They both came from rough backgrounds, but were lucky enough to have the butcher and his wife.

Pauline (Penelope Wilton) and her husband the butcher, Brian (Peter Wight), became a second family for Dawn and her extended tribe. Russell worked in the butcher shop.

Each of these women had a number of problems and complications in her story. All of them were interesting and dealt with in heartfelt and clever ways. The plot twists were kept within this main circle of friends. There were some good plot twists! I attribute this to the women who created and wrote the series, Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling. Jill Robertson directed two of the episodes.

I liked all four of the women immediately. They were wonderfully different. Sophie Rundle was the lead actress, and the reason I was interested in the series in the first place. (Gentleman Jack ring any bells?)

Karl Davies and Chloe Pirrie in Brief Encounters

The other character I enjoyed was Hellie (Chloe Pirrie). She was a closeted lesbian working toward coming out. Not easy in 1982 Britain. Every time I see her in something, I’m impressed. She was especially good in To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters.

Several streamers are carrying this series. It’s easy to find and easy to watch. I totally enjoyed it.

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