If you are a screenwriter (or any creative who wants to work in TV), you should make it a habit to go to as many previews of new TV shows as possible. Consider it part of the job: previews are educational and fun. There is no better way to impress producers than knowing more than them!
It was at the Royal Society of Television preview of FLACK, that I first got introduced to the series. Many things happened that evening: I learnt that it took eight years of back and forth between countries and producers to finally make FLACK happen (a lesson in perseverance right there). I discovered UKTV and immediately asked my agent to find our way in, because, OMG they run many channels; and with multiple channels come multiple opportunities! Most importantly, I fell in love with FLACK.
It wasn’t love at first sight, if I am honest. The swearing, drug using, cold and ruthless protagonist, Robyn, was too much for me to digest. Surely no women behave like this, I thought. The truth is, they do. Especially in the world of high-level PR, where we are talking serious money, reputations, lives even.
Regardless of my initial dislike of Robyn, I was intrigued by the premise and therefore committed to watch the rest of the series and it was the best show I have seen in a long time. The pace is fast – not your typical British drama, – it keeps you on your toes. It keeps you engaged. It definitely keeps you away from your phone. (Always a winner for me). The setting is glamorous, high end London, which won’t be everybody’s taste but it got a ‘yes’ from me.
The dialogue is funny, witty and character-specific. In my book, it’s better than Fleabag (even though, rumour has it Phoebe Waller-Bridge was involved in polishing the dialogue, which explains a lot). Finally, the characters. FEMALE characters. All so very different. Yet very much the same.
Apart from Robyn, there is Caroline, the Head of the PR agency. She is stone cold, detached, unashamedly driven by the success of her company. She gets Botox injections at her desk and she always looks impeccable. Eve, Robyn’s friend and colleague, is bitter, disappointed, not believing she deserves to be loved. She pushes men away deliberately, scared of getting hurt. Then there is Melody – young, naïve, pure, but learning fast because that’s the world she is thrown into and who she wants to become. We all hope she won’t, yet we know she will.
All of FLACK’s female characters are driven, successful, ambitious, not necessarily likeable. But their underlying sadness is palpable; because for a woman, success of that proportion comes with a price. It’s called loneliness. And that is, what all the female characters of FLACK have in common. FLACK portrays modern women in an honest, unashamed, unsweetened way. Not everybody will be on board but it’s time we got started. Thank you, creators of FLACK, for taking the first step.
By Natalie Ekberg
Natalie Ekberg is a screenwriter who has an MA in Screenwriting and Playwriting from City University. Her first short film That Girl, Peugeot is currently in development with MsMono. You can follow Natalie and her work on Twitter.
Flack was broadcast on the W Channel but is currently unavailable to watch on catch up.