The Casual Vacancy Recap/Review

The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy aired Wednesday April 29th through Thursday April 30th for us UThe Casual Vacancy.S fans on HBO. The three-part mini series is based on J.K Rowling’s novel of the same name. I sat down and watched it with having little to no information about it and having not read the book it’s based on. Because of this, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in; I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

The mini series takes place in a small English town called Pagford. It’s one of those towns where everyone knows everyone and it’s filled to the brim with quaint shops. Within the town there’s a council, which oversees various rules/regulations and the current decision of getting rid of the local rehab facility to build a spa. Over the course of I’d say, 10-20 minutes or so, we’re given a glimpse into the lives of about a dozen different characters. This is where I got a bit nervous; I just knew I was hardly going to know anyone’s name (this became true for the most part) and I wouldn’t know what their relations would be to each other in the town as well. But I would say by at least the start of the second episode, all of you fellow viewers who haven’t read the book should be able to follow each particular family.

The Casual VacancyThe drama begins when a member of the council, Barry Fairbrother, dies unexpectedly and the town scrounges around to find a replacement via an election. There are three potential candidates: Simon Price (pictured to the left), who is Barry’s half-brother. Miles Mollison, the mayor’s son, played by Michael Gamdon (most known for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films). And lastly, Colin Wall. As happens so often with elections, everyone in the town takes different sides and several arguments/disagreements ensue.

Stepping away from the plot, I really admired the reoccurring theme placed throughout each episode. Barry Fairbrother was the nicest and most respected man in the entire town. Being a social worker, he understood the reason for allowing the drug rehabilitation clinic to remain where it was. And one thing I noticed was he played such a crucial role to every character. Barry was a loving husband to his later widowed wife. He looked after Krystal Weedon, her younger brother Robbie, and their drug addict mother as their social worker. Obviously his death affected everyone on the council, etc. So what on earth do the townsfolk of Pagford do when such a crucial member passes away? How can you survive in the world without the one person that kept the town together? The Casual Vacancy explores this.

With such a large cast, it’s common for a few people to be underused, overshadowed by others, or to steal the scene completely. For me, I was interested in seeing more of Sukhvinder Jawanda, the teenage daughter of Parminder and Vikram Jawanda, who constantly had her headphones in her ears, but seemed to observe the world and people around her like a hawk. In the entire series, she only had a single line.

The Casual VacancyThere were quite a bit of scene stealers in this mini-series. Abigail Lawrie (Krystal Weedon, pictured to the right) will blow you out of the water with her performance. If IMDB is correct, this was her first role ever. Someone hire her for more roles, she’s going to go places. Krystal Weedon is at first pictured as your typical posh, rebellious high schooler. She is so much more than that. With her mother struggling with a heroin addiction, it’s up to her to take care of her younger brother Robbie. “Be careful with her, she’s vulnerable,” her guidance counselor explains to her son that’s interested in her. It goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

For those that saw the mini-series that have read the book, what did you think of it? I’m aware they changed the ending (which definitely seemed a bit rushed and incomplete in my opinion) and after reading what the original ending was, I wish they hadn’t. It would have made the film come full circle and left it in a much darker and more somber tone than it already had in place.

Whether you read the book or not, what did you think of the mini-series adaptation?