Maryland (2024) PBS Review – This British mini-series is a slog to sit through

This British mini-series is a slog to sit through

It’s easy to feel sorry for new British actresses hoping to make it on television. While many of them will get their big break, some are likely to get left behind due to UK networks choosing to give roles to the same actresses repeatedly. 

If it’s not Sheridan Smith in a new British drama, it’s Sarah Lancashire. And if it’s not Sarah Lancashire, it’s Suranne Jones. Now, I’m not suggesting these actresses aren’t talented. But as they tend to dominate the British TV airspace, it’s not surprising when their name is at the top of the credits of an upcoming UK serial.

It’s Suranne Jones who is the star of this latest drama that is new to PBS in May. She stars as Becca, a wife and mother whose chaotic life becomes even more turbulent when she discovers her mother Mary has died. Together with her sister Rosaline (Eve Best), she travels to the Isle of Man, which is where her mom’s body was found on the beach.

Has their mother been murdered? Fans of Broadchurch might assume that is the case. However, the truth is far less sinister, as Maryland is less a crime thriller and more a family drama about squabbling siblings and the secrets they uncover about their elderly mom.

Several questions are raised as this 3-part drama goes on. What was Mary doing on the island? Was she having an affair? What is her connection to Cathy (Stockard Channing), a woman who we see purchasing drugs?

As I watched the drama unfold, there were a few questions I asked myself too, chief among them being “Why am I still watching this?” The answer to that question, of course, is because I was viewing Maryland for review purposes. But if I hadn’t been, I would have given up on it after sitting through the first episode.

So, why am I so negative? Well, for one thing, the writing isn’t very good. When we see the sisters reconnect with one another, there is the potential for something profound and emotional. But as their dialogue scenes are often quite clunky and cliched, it’s hard to recognise these women as being real or relatable.

It’s the way the sisters are portrayed too that causes a problem. One moment, they’re pally with one another and the next, they’re shouting at each other while bringing up long-festering resentments from the past. 

Admittedly, sibling relationships can often be rocky. But the way this relationship is portrayed is sometimes quite laughable. Just as the two women start to bond, you know that one of them will bring something up that causes them to fight. After a while, the predictability of the drama just gets tedious. 

Another problem with Maryland is its abundance of agony. While this was never going to be considered a light-hearted affair, considering its primary subject matter – the death of a mother – the writers aren’t content to just focus on grief. There is a cancer subplot thrown in too, as well as a plotline about Becca’s struggling marriage. Within the story are other sobering themes, but we can’t reveal those here as we would be giving away a couple of major plot twists.

If Maryland had been a one-off, hour-long drama, it may have been passable. But stretched out to 3 episodes, the cracks begin to show, as the writers are forced to pad out the episodes with scenes that are rarely believable. The series becomes a bit of a slog to sit through as a consequence, especially towards the end when all of the twists have been revealed and there is nothing more to maintain interest. 

Maryland could have been a sensitive drama about sisterhood, the importance of family, and grief. These themes are front and center but the trite writing undermines anything important we could have taken away from the programme. 

Ultimately, Maryland is only worth a watch if you’re a fan of the actors or melodramatic soap operas. But if you don’t fall into either category, don’t worry if you skip this one. The Isle of Man scenery is beautiful and the acting is fine. But the weak characterizations, un-shocking plot twists, and ineffective storytelling do much to derail this tedious UK drama.

So, if you are an up-and-coming British actress, you can thank your lucky stars that you missed out on a role in this disappointing mini-series.

Feel Free To Check Out More Of Our TV Show Reviews Here!

  • Verdict - 4/10