Rebellion has all the ingredients to be a really exciting depiction of a pivotal moment in Irish history. Between the great set design, strong character work and decent acting, Rebellion is let down by a pedestrian story, one that fails to do justice to the slice of history it’s based on. Rebellion is quite the slow burn too, with the first few episodes getting the show off to a shaky start before eventually opening up and becoming much more engaging. While there is enjoyment to be had here, with the 5 episode length helping with the pacing, Rebellion ultimately feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
Set in the heart of Ireland during 1916 on the brink of the Irish revolution, Rebellion follows several characters as they prepare for an uprising against the oppressive British regime. At the center of this conflict are a fair few fictional characters whom we follow including best friends Frances and May, soldier Arthur, Peggy and a slew of supporting characters as well. While the characters themselves are well written, showcasing a range of different issues in their respective stories, the sheer number here overshadow and undermine the urgency of the overarching story.
It’s a shame too as the main plot does have some shining moments and especially during the third and fourth episodes, Rebellion really does do well to show the conflict between the British and Irish. Unfortunately these moments are fleeting at best and the 5-part mini-series is chock full of soap-opera drama which overwhelms the historical significance of the event itself. For those history buffs out there, it’s worth noting that Rebellion does slip up with some pretty obvious anachronisms as well.
Having said that, Rebellion does have some redeeming features. The character drama is relatively strong throughout and the acting really does do well to hold everything together. It certainly helps keep you watching through to the end as well and the series itself improves dramatically after the first few episodes. All of this, combined with the gritty setting and decent set design, should be enough to see you through to the end.
With a second season greenlit and coming soon, it’ll be interesting to see where this historical series goes from here. Despite some historical inaccuracies and a dependence on character drama to keep things moving forward, Rebellion is worth checking out if you like historical dramas. It’s not the best out there but it is engaging enough to watch to see how it ends. If the second season manages to refocus the series in a more meaningful way Rebellion could be a very solid offering but as it stands Rebellion is good enough to watch but not quite good enough to remember for years to come.