There are three types of television programme out there with which every sensible woman should familiarise herself.
First up there's the highbrow, thinking woman's show – your Handmaid's Tales, your Westworlds, your Sopranos. These are heavy hitting, Very Serious Dramas or Documentary Series that comment on the state of the world through impeccable cinematography. They are to be watched thoughtfully and talked over at length with your other highbrow friends on evenings when you are feeling particularly impressed with yourself.
Next up, there are the feelgood watches. These include half-hour sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family and life-affirming reality shows like First Dates. These can be watched curled up in bed on a hangover, curled up in bed with the Sunday blues, or curled up in bed when you're feeling a bit sad. Forget the glass of Blossom Hill and the bar of Galaxy chocolate – you're better than that stereotype and these shows are ultimately far more nourishing for your soul.
Then there are the slightly ridiculous but ever-so-enjoyable Background Dramas. These shows are excellent for having on your laptop as you get ready, or clean your room. They're great to shove on while your friend who talks over everything is round. Perfect to stick on while you're getting dinner ready and aren't fully able to focus because the veg keeps boiling over. They're things like Doctor Foster, Scandal, Big Little Lies, The Good Wife/Fight, Designated Survivor before it got shit. Despite the fact that missing a few minutes here and there does literally nothing to your ability to follow the plot, this category is not to be sniffed at. It's marvellously enjoyable television.
Netflix's new drama Safe falls firmly into this last category. And it is magnificently watchable.
Created by wildly successful crime writer Harlan Coben and produced by Michael C. Hall (the guy who played Dexter in, well, Dexter), the show is set in an exclusive gated community with a Surrey feel to it, despite being filmed in Manchester.
Michael C. Hall plays a widowed surgeon with two daughters. When his 16-year-old doesn't return home after a party, he and his policewoman girlfriend (Amanda Abbington) take the investigation into their own hands and discover that they don't have to scratch very hard at the surface of this perfect community to see the dirty secrets that lie underneath. "The safer the street," the tagline runs, "the darker the secrets." Oooh.
The show is designed to deliver maximum "omg" moments. Red herrings are plentiful, as are cliffhangers, which are apparently just as effective when the gap between shows is 30 seconds rather than a week. The characters are attractive in a believable, British kind of way, and all the familiar crime drama tropes are on board, from decades-old tragedies to mysterious secrets linked to the local mental hospital that everyone's forgotten about.
Sure, some of the characters' decisions require a suspension of disbelief and Michael C. Hall's British accent is so measured and perfected that it's in danger of sounding dubbed. And yes, some of the side plots are sensational and wildly irrelevant but that's not the point of the Background Drama. Safe is not there to be the televisual equivalent of Citizen Kane, it's there to be a fun, bingeable bit of escapism that you can safely watch (or half-watch) from the comfort of your own home. The characters' lives are falling apart but all you have to do is spectate and wonder idly if, when you're a millionaire, your mansion will be as garish as the one on screen.
So give it a watch, if only to give your brain a break from serious things like the news and Westworld. It is, as the name suggests, totally and utterly Safe. And you'll enjoy every minute of it.