Review: Mr. Selfridge
Mr Selfridge transports you to a world of British aristocracy and family business
W!ZARD News AuthorTweet
Set in the early 1900s, ‘Mr Selfridge’ transports you to a world of British aristocracy and family business. Inspired by the life of American-born retail magnate, Harry Selfridge, who moves to London to start the world-renowned department store, the series is a striking period drama, exploring both the intimate issues within a variety of relationships as well as the wider problems society had at that time. It has clearly been produced with much attention to detail; creating a programme that is visually stunning and highly convincing.
The first episode of series three is tainted with tragedy. The wife and mother Rose Selfridge has passed away, leaving a devastated widower. Harry Selfridge is played admirably by Jeremy Piven. He is a troubled character and although his life is one of luxury and unquestionable privilege, there is a heart-warming sincerity that exudes from his persona. Nine months after their bereavement, the family are celebrating the wedding of the eldest daughter Rosalie to Prince Sergei de Bolotoff. What seems to be a perfect portrait of love and romance is quickly revealed to have many cracks; the fragility of Rosalie and Sergei’s marriage is evident even within this first episode. The selfish ambition of Sergei is undeniable and the conflict building up between him and Mr Selfridge over business plans is already gripping.
Not only is ‘Mr Selfridge’ excellent in its presentation of power struggles and intense dynamics between interesting characters, it gains even more credit due to the impeccable way in which it takes into account historical context. Throughout this episode, there is a poignant undercurrent reflecting the effects of the war, whether that be tension between the returning soldiers and their female counterparts working at the store or with the emerging signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Henri Leclair (a character who has just come back from the battlefield). Although it is titled ‘Mr Selfridge’, the series entertainingly interweaves a number of narratives, all of which centre around memorable characters.
The programme has already introduced to the viewers the nemesis of Harry Selfridge, laying the foundation for a series that promises to be a journey full of unexpected twists and turns. It will undoubtedly be quite the emotional rollercoaster. In a time where American sitcoms and series seem to dominate our television screens, ‘Mr Selfridge’ is a refreshing change and it is beginning to restore my hope for the future of British television.