The Hollywood powers that be have finally started to realize that movies and shows with flawed, relatable, and funny female protagonists are what audiences crave. You know, because that's what real women are like.
Now, following Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag winning Emmys for doing just that, the Amazon series' very wise producers (Jack and Harry Williams and Sarah Hammond) are back with a show that could fill the Fleabag-shaped hole in our hearts. The new six-part show Back to Life premieres on Showtime on October 6 after originally premiering in April in the UK. And while writer and star Daisy Haggard's main character Miri isn't a real person, she is a role that feels entirely real — someone Haggard says defies expectations about how a woman should behave. Again, like most actual women do.
Showtime’s latest follows Miri as she returns to her quaint English town after completing an 18-year jail sentence. When Back to Life begins, the audience doesn’t learn why Miri was imprisoned, but her past mistake looms over her as she attempts to settle into a normal life. She tries to rebuild trust with her parents and form friendships, but it’s not easy. She also has to adjust to a world she has been separated from for almost two decades.
Although Miri and Fleabag don’t have many similarities, Back to Life filled the show’s time slot on the BBC, so comparisons are natural and Haggard doesn’t seem to mind. When asked by Harper’s Bazaar UK about her show’s predecessor, Haggard said, “Fleabag was one of the best things I’d seen in ages, I love Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] and I love that show.” She added, “I just think it’s really encouraging that there are more and more female voices being pushed forward and given great slots on telly. My show is very different [to Fleabag] but hopefully it’ll bring you something.”
Miri isn’t the stereotypical “hero," which is exactly what Haggard intended. She spoke to the BBC about why she was drawn to write Miri as a character who has committed a crime in her past. “I was always really interested in how harshly we judge a woman who has done a bad thing over how we judge men,” she explained. “We put things that men do sometimes down to testosterone. We forgive them a little easier.”
Haggard continued, “I wanted to write a show about a woman who had done something in her past and what that would be like, to try and start your life again with that enormous dark secret and baggage behind you.”
Since she knew she wanted a story with an ex-criminal at the center of it, Haggard also talked to former inmates to learn what it is like to readjust to life after spending years behind bars. “You've had this extraordinary, massive, enormous experience but you haven't actually had some quite fundamental, day-to-day life experiences and I thought that was just a really interesting story,” Haggard said.
This show is a comedy after all, so expect Miri’s every day struggles to be addressed in a way that will make you think and laugh at the same time.