From seeing the very first trailers for the first season, to watching the last scene in the final episode, something about the British crime drama "Broadchurch" has fascinated me like no crime show ever had before. In the past, I’d try to watch an episode of two of whatever CSI series was in re-runs at the time but no matter how much I wanted to be a part of the bandwagon, I just could not find it in myself to keep up with any of them. "Broadchurch," from the very beginning, was unique. David Tennant and Olivia Colman’s portrayals of their characters, Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller, anchor the storylines of the three seasons, keeping the viewer glued to the screen at every turn. From Hardy’s gruff and haunting personality to Miller’s genuine desire to be there for her family and friends while still doing her job, the personalities of each character are so well-crafted that they make this show impossible to walk away from.
From the very first episode of the first season, I was struck by the show’s raw portrayal of the emotions of the people living in "Broadchurch," the hometown of Danny Latimer, whose murder is the focus of the first season’s plot. Of course, they were all concerned with finding out who was his killer but, as the mystery builds, “why” began to matter more than “who.” The confusion and shared grief of the townspeople were some things that other crime shows had never incorporated into the plot. The most painful part of the storyline was the Latimer family’s grief. Danny’s mother, father and sister had to figure out how to go about their lives with a huge empty space in their hearts, and without knowing who to blame for putting it there. In what I found to be the most painful scene, Danny’s mother, Beth, is in the cereal aisle of their local grocery store — this being her first time out since the news of her son’s murder spread throughout the town. She is met with stares and sympathetic looks and finds herself in the cereal aisle holding a box of Danny’s favorite cereal. The pain on Beth’s face holding this symbol of her son in her hands and realizing that she will never be with him again is unmistakable to anyone who has ever felt a loss. It is scenes like this one that handle such pivotal moments with incredible delicacy while still getting the point across that set the show apart from all others in its genre.
When the second season began, it quickly became clear to me that the plot would be mostly focused on the courtroom proceedings of Danny’s killer. I had a lot of doubts about the show’s ability to repeat the greatness of the first season, but those concerns were eased by the skillful writing of Chris Chibnall, whose ability to craft the show’s storyline brought new and conflicting emotions to the characters and, by extension, the viewers. The way that this season showed the lives of central characters come crashing down and their pasts unearthed still had me glued to the screen at every turn. The steps that Chibnall takes to add depth to the characters at the risk of viewers getting bored are well worth it in the end.
The third and final season was by far the most impacting out of the entire series and the most influential in the way that "Broadchurch" impacted the media. It focuses on a woman, Trish Winterman, who was raped during a party. I have never experienced anything close to what she did and I had relatively little experience with the topic of sexual assault. In a world where rape is often talked about in hushed tones, "Broadchurch" showed every aspect of the assault in all of its harsh reality from the difficulty in obtaining real evidence to the invisible pain it inflicts on the one assaulted and those around them. Every element of the cinematography establishes the devastation that Trish and those close to her feel. The show walks through every step of the investigation, even bringing Trish back to the scene of the crime. In recounting the events of that night, Trish says, “I was so happy that night” before showing the faces of Hardy and Miller, who are utterly heartbroken.
I have yet to meet another person who has watched a single episode of "Broadchurch," and I can understand why. Despite the fact that these episodes are often times gut-wrenching to watch, mostly because you know that the devastation shown is what many in the real world feel every day, I believe that we could all learn a lot from this show, Trish Winterman’s case especially. "Broadchurch" has always been good at showing us that, although the lives of the people impacted by these crimes will never be the same, over time, those involved will become stronger and able to use their experiences to help others in the process of healing.