BBC One’s new psychological thriller, The Cry, hits close to home for many parents. Jenna Coleman, the ex-Doctor Who actress, plays a young mother, Joanna, who is the focus of media attention due to the abduction of her and her husband Alastair’s son, Noah.
The first episode illuminates the very real trials that are a part of motherhood and yet tend to be overlooked. It subtly focuses on how normal feelings of being overwhelmed and tired as a new mother can be scrutinised and twisted into the concept of poor parenting. The show makes it clear that being a mother has its complications at any point in motherhood, as it includes the difficulties that Alastair’s ex-wife, Alexandra, goes through with raising their 14-year-old daughter.
It also skilfully tackles the issue of unbalanced childrearing in a marriage, as Ewen Leslie plays a rather distant father who is also fighting for custody of his 14-year-old daughter and thus leaves the task of raising Noah to Joanna. This amalgamation of problems allows Jenna Coleman to present a chilling character who, in her flashbacks is unsurprisingly struggling with stress, but in the wake of her missing child is disturbingly resigned and collected.
The contrast between past and present Joanna adds to the mystery of the story as it has the viewer conjuring a mountain of conspiracies, questioning whether she perhaps purposely lost the child or whether this was all a ploy for media attention. One Twitter user said “They [the parents] staged the baby kidnap. I wonder if that’s why she was sick at the house, the baby was already dead and they pretended it was in the car to stage a fake kidnap. I’ve solved this one guys, stand down”.
The nail biting drama opened with around 5.7 million viewers, falling short of Bodyguard’s six million viewer audience. However, it did manage to surpass the chilling thriller McMafia which had around five million viewers for the opening episode of the show.
Despite the success of the first episode, it is questionable how promising viewer numbers will be in the next episode as the continuous time lapses in the episode seemed to have left some viewers confused and disinterested. Perhaps the producers were trying to be true to Helen FitzGerald’s book, to which the show is based on, as the book similarly flashes back and forth in time. However, it notably functions better in text than on screen as the continuous movement of plot disrupts the focus of the episode which left many viewers to express their frustration through Twitter.
Nevertheless, the characters depict a convincing dilemma that leaves the viewer interested for more.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr