Banshee is out on DVD and Netflix this week and it is awesome. (Also still available on Max Go from Cinemax.) Well-written, well-acted, well-directed, nice cinematography and variation of color palette. This show has many of my favorite things, from gothic characters who can kick ass to bad boys and bad girls who can’t follow the rules to mobsters with hearts. I’m going to write about Banshee now, but I can summarize by saying: Just watch it.
I got Cinemax for free when I re-upped HBO to watch Game of Thrones. I had no idea Cinemax had such fun original programming. The billboards for Cinemax’s Banshee show were just a stylized cartoon of a murdered guy and the implication that True Blood’s Alan Ball created the show. I loved the first season of True Blood and I think later seasons suffer more from the source material than the execution. Alan Ball’s production company Your Face Goes Here did produce the show, but the creators are writers David Schickler and Jonathan Tropper. Anyway, Banshee name notwithstanding, this is not a supernatural sexfest.
Banshee is a sexfest. A seriously hot sexfest with lots of woman-friendly eroticism e.g. varied attractive men who alternate between dressing snappy and getting naked. Or partially naked. Also lots of extended scenes of cunnilingus, if that is your thing. (No hydraulics, but convincing acting, and pretty darn explicit for cable.) But it is all badass guys and badass chicks and criminals with hearts of gold and totally nobody is a vampire or a fairy or a screaming ghost. The title refers to the name of the fictional Pennsylvania Dutch town it takes place in.
Our action hero star Lucas Hood, played with remarkable nuance by Antony Starr, is a career criminal who is impersonating a sheriff and doing a pretty darn good job of it. His buddies include a philosophical boxer, a fabulously goth glam hacker, an Amish bad girl, and more. The town’s bigtime gangster is Kai Proctor, a shunned Amish martial arts enthusiast with religious tattoos and a fetish for those Amish girl hats. Proctor is a businessman with his fingers in every pie in Banshee, everything from meat packing to casinos. Lucas Hood just has his fingers in every pie (still figuratively, but a different kind of figure) in Banshee, but his heart is given to another career criminal who just happens to be leading a double life in hiding here. The characters are a fascinating and well-developed assortment and many are in interestingly parallel situations.
Explosions ensue. Also very witty dialogue. And some of — seriously! — the most erotic erotica I’ve ever seen on a show. Even with some really over-the-top scenes, the show manages to deftly handle some really interesting themes of the conflict between who you should be and who you need to be. This quote from the pilot says it all, in a scene where our hero is asking for help from his gothic glam, ass-kicking, hair-dressing, gender-bending hacker friend:
Lucas Hood: I need to become someone else.
Job: Honeychild, don’t we all.