Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Maxine’s Peak Outrageous Workplace Drama Game’s rules lack nuance – review

Have we achieved peak peak? On ITV, Maxine Peake as a grieving Hillsborough mom is doing a sensitive, heartwarming job that’s worthwhile if tough anne, Now, completing Twin Peaks, she pops up to star on BBC rules of the game, a four-episode drama about an abusive workplace. I guess we can call it HR procedural.

This is the less obviously sympathetic part. That’s Sam Thompson, a life partner at Fly Dynamic, a fictional family-run sportswear firm in the North who no doubt has any ties to Sports Direct, say lawyers. (Writer Ruth Fowler has said she was inspired by the Harvey Weinstein case.) Sam is an originator who is war-hardened, allergic to rubbish, and protective of senior men. The company is preparing to go public, or “go public and float on the stock exchange”, in its preferred tautology. The IPO, with its attendant scrutiny from bankers, lawyers and journalists, means the firm can’t stand a whiff of scandal. As part of this campaign, she has hired a new human resources director, Maya Benshaw (Rakhi Thakrar). Maya is sensitive, thoughtful and up to date with the latest jargon Guardian In Sunday porridge.

He has cut his job. Fly Dynamic is plagued by scams. As workplaces go, it’s roughly as progressive and egalitarian as the Roman army. The business is now jointly run by the founder’s sons, Owen (Ben Batt) and Gareth Jenkins (Kieran Bev). Owen is sleeker, Gareth is more teddy-bearish, but they share an affinity for wine and women. It is not long now that Maya could hardly converse with an employee without pointing out the dark secrets. An upset Tess (Cally Cooke) is caught having sex in the boardroom, but explains that she cannot be fired because she knows too much. Oh, and don’t forget the corpses. In the opening scene, a man is found dead in the atrium, apparently having fallen from a high floor. Ten years earlier, a young female employee, Amy, had also died, apparently from a drug overdose. In alternating timelines, we follow Maya’s journey of discovery as well as the police investigation into what is happening in the firm. Even as an abusive ex, he has his own problems to worry about.

peak hold rules of the game Together. Sam isn’t as flexible as he seems and is apparently hiding his own secrets. Peake does what she can to showcase the struggle of a woman who is proud to have made her way in business, but isn’t blind to mistakes. There’s also a wonderfully supportive turn from Alison Steadman as the head of the Jenkins family, Anita, mother of Owen and Gareth, and widow of founder Harry. She is a flint-eyed Thatcherite Grand Dame, a real force in business.

But too often, scripts and performances have all the subtleties of a boss’ hand skirt on Christmas Eve. Owen’s wife, Vanessa, a Botox-injecting glamourpuss, sometimes seems to have strayed into another event. footballers’ wives, Maybe. In this black-and-white world, men are all villains, and all women are victims, even those who have helped enable abuse and protect abusers. Workplace harassment is much more subtle and deadly than that. There’s no shortage of drama about office politics, especially if we take a broad view of what we think of as the workplace: there is crazy man, or the Sopranos, HBO’s Industry Human resources hinges on procedures in a more specific and admirable way, showing how rules designed to protect employees can be weaponized and manipulated. In rules of the game, malformations and dynamics are clearly evident.

“How are you looking for us,” Owen asks Maya, pouring her a hard drink at the office. “Are we a lost cause?” The answer is “yes, obviously”. It doesn’t make his job any easier, but it lowers the stakes of the drama. The game ended before it even started.

Nation World News Desk
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