‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ : I watched it should you?

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Have you ever sat there with the television’s dull light illuminating the space around you? It’s quiet; you’re bored or you want to relax after a long day of work. “Let’s watch something” you say to your significant other(boothang), yourself, or your cat- you scroll over to Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu,(whichever you prefer really) and it hits you. “what the hell do I watch?”

The choices are endless, and frankly by the time you can make a solid decision you’ve already wasted a good chunk of free time. But, I’m here to help.

In this series I’ll help you decide what to queue up or what to avoid as you scour the endless streaming services for your next dopamine hit, sleep aid, or deep dive into the world of cinematic storytelling.

Starting off by going into key basics of a show: Where you can watch it, the cast, genre, the official synopsis, and a little bit of background if it applies.

I know different people have different tastes in what shows they like, as well as how they like to consume their content. I’ll consider things like season status, episode counts, and run times so you have all the necessary information to make decision on whether to watch a show or not, even without a personalized opinion.

But it’s impossible for me to properly talk about shows without getting personal. Who would read anything written by some shmuck who didn’t even pay attention amirite?

I’m going to try my very best to avoid spoilers but I will not avoid bringing up things that I find as major flaws.

Let’s start talking Anatomy of a Scandal!

The Basics

Table of Contents

Synopsis

The official Synopsis for Anatomy of a Scandal is as follows :

“Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, and a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime.”

Anatomy of a Scandal is a TV adapation of Sarah Vaughn’s book of the same name.

Season Status/Episode Count

Anatomy of a Scandal is a limited series.

Other well known Limited Series include but are not limited to HBO’s Chernobyl, Netflix’s The Queens Gambit, Disney+’s Wandavision, and Hulu’s Pam and Tommy.

While networks have always been creating Limited Series, they have recently seen a resurgence in popularity. I believe it’s because viewers are starting to become frustrated with becoming invested in TV shows only to watch them get abruptly cancelled for unclear reasons(looking at you Netflix).

Anatomy of a Scandal cleanly tells it’s story across 6 episodes which all span about 45 minutes each.

Genre/Network

Anatomy of a Scandal is a Netflix Original and is labeled as a Psychological Thriller.

I don’t agree that it should be labeled as a thriller(even though it is thrilling) but it could be considered more of a Psychological Drama.

While a Netflix Original, it is a very British show, so people who aren’t necessarily fans of the style or story structure of British Television may want to steer clear.

Principle Cast

I’ll go into only a handful of the Principle Cast below, who they play, and what else they’ve been in.

There are some spoilers below.

Sienna Miller

Sienna Miller plays Sophie Whitehouse, the wife of James Whitehouse and mother of two children.

** SPOILER** Feeling betrayed and disgusted with her husband about his affair with a subordinate of his, she ultimately learns to forgive and deal with her emotions while carrying on. Until, the situation only gets worse when her Husband’s ex-mistress accuses him of a heinous crime.

Being at the center of a scandal when you had no choice in the matter definitely could definitely take a serious toll on a person. An unquestionable victim of the scenario at hand, we watch the story unfold through her eyes.

I’m going to avoid going into more detail about her character because well, if you watch you’ll understand.

Sienna Miller as Sophie Whitehouse in Anatomy of a Scandal
Sienna Miller as Sophie Whitehouse in Anatomy of a Scandal

Sienna Miller did an absolutely incredible job in this role. There was not a single point in the show where I thought she performed poorly.

She’s received nominations for 24 different awards, 5 of which she has won. To learn more about her extensive resume and nods check out her IMDB Page here.

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery plays Barrister Kate Woodcroft, the prosecution for the case we are following throughout the show. A respected practitioner of of the law, and seen as a powerhouse by her colleagues, this brilliant lawyer stops at nothing to ensure that justice is served.

She’s at the center of a major plot twist later on in the show which I obviously won’t spoil.

Michelle Dockery as Barrister Kate Woodcroft in Anatomy of a Scandal
Michelle Dockery as Barrister Kate Woodcroft in Anatomy of a Scandal

Aside from having this show recommended to me(thanks Audrey!) upon learning that Michelle Dockery played a main role I knew I had to watch it. And she, of course, gives a stellar performance, possibly the best in the show.

I recognize her from two shows specifically, the first and more recent being Godless, a western drama set in Pre-State New Mexico, and the critically and commercially acclaimed Downton Abbey(a personal favorite of mine) where she plays one of the main characters, Lady Mary Crawley.

An incredible actress in my eyes, she will always be a draw for me for any TV Show or Film. To see more of her impressive resume you can check out her IMDB Page here.

Rupert Friend

Rupert Friend plays James Whitehouse, the Husband of Sophie Whitehouse. Born into privilege, intelligent, a charismatic and well liked Tory(conservative party for you Americans). He plays a critical viewpoint in the show as the one accused of a heinous crime by his ex-mistress.

His character is clearly a man who has a somewhat decent head on his shoulders, and one you frequently sympathize with and want to believe but is a clear representation of when “boys will be boys” and privilege goes too far.

Rupert Friend as James Whitehouse in Anatomy of a Scandal
Rupert Friend as James Whitehouse in Anatomy of a Scandal

Rupert Friend also does an incredible acting job throughout. He plays his character with so much emotion and is so convincing of his innocence that throughout a lot of the show you’re kind of rooting for the guy, even though as the story progresses, we learn more about him, the past, and the truth itself.

I hated how much I liked his character. But that’s done on purpose, to show how even the most charismatic and likable person can be an abuser.

His most notable roles are that of Peter Quinn in Homeland, and as The Grand Inquisitor in the Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series on Disney+. For a full look at his credits, of course, check out his IMDB page here.

Josette Simon

Josette Simon plays Barrister Angela Regan, good friend and colleague to Kate Woodcroft.

A character who can easily separate her job from who she truly is, we see her acting as an equally brilliant lawyer to her counterpart and colleague. But, she also adds a good level of humor to the show(I’m still laughing internally at her “ShitBit” line) which is kind-of subtle but necessary when so much of the show revolves around topics that are, for many, uncomfortable, serious, and triggering.

Josette Simon as Soliciter Angela Regan in Anatomy of a Scandal
Josette Simon as Barrister Angela Regan in Anatomy of a Scandal

This role is an absolute masterclass in acting. In a supporting role, she does an incredible job elevating the story when she pops up on screen and does an incredible job without overshadowing other characters at the same time.

For a list of her incredibly impressive resume, of course, check out her IMDB Page here.

Naomi Scott

Naomi Scott plays Olivia Lytton in Anatomy of a Scandal. The subordinate and ex-mistress of James Whitehouse, she plays an incredibly important role as the accuser.

The trial and scandal we watch unfold is a direct result of her accusation, and, to avoid more spoilers, I will refrain from talking more about her character

Naomi Scott as Olivia Lytton in Anatomy of a Scandal
Naomi Scott as Olivia Lytton in Anatomy of a Scandal

Recognizing Naomi Scott is no coincidence, she has had multiple roles in the past few years including, but not limited to Jasmine in the Live-Action Remake of Disney’s Aladdin, and a main role in the 2019 reboot of Charlies Angels as Elena Houghlin.

She didn’t have many lines in Anatomy of a Scandal, but was constantly referenced and always had a “presence” in the characters lives.

Her most important scene was raw, honest, and had me questioning everything I had seen beforehand in the show. An incredible job well done.

For more info on her acting(and music career apparently) check out her IMDB Page here.

How I watched it

I watched Anatomy of a Scandal over the course of 3 days at 2 episodes a night.

It was an incredibly easy show to watch, it keeps you hooked into the story the entire time through it’s plot development and it’s twists.

Impressions

Here I’ll go into some impressions that I had while watching Anatomy of a Scandal.

Cinematography

The show in it’s entirety is stunning. London is an obvious location to include in any British-based setting/story but I have never seen it in this way.

Shots of the city are as unique as they are captivating but what impressed me most about the cinematography of the show was the progression of it.

As the story continues we learn more about each character, their pasts, and the current event that they’re all in. The cinematography does an incredible job, in my eyes, in reflecting the characters and their mental states as the show progresses.

As the facts become faded, so do our surroundings. When a character is experiencing extreme stress we can feel it visually.

Television is very much a visual medium, and Anatomy of a Scandal does an incredible job showing the hearts and minds of the characters visually throughout the story.

Character Study

One of the first things I thought after watching the very first episode of Anatomy of a Scandal was “this is definitely going to be a character study.” And, I think I was spot on with that prediction.

Anatomy of a Scandal throws you into the minds of all the people who are involved when a crime turns into a public scandal. The accused, their families, their friends, the people working the case, the accuser/victim, etc.

I found each character felt incredibly real, whether it’s because of the writing or the portrayal of said characters I’m not entirely sure.

Characters had me doubting their honesty, intent, and even sanity throughout the show.

Nobody is perfect, and just because you’re flawed doesn’t mean you’re absolutely terrible. And just because you made a mistake, doesn’t mean you deserve to be victimized.

Themes

This is where I’m going to bring up a few flaws within the show. Anatomy of a Scandal had a lot of different themes in 6 episodes.

Class Disparities, Flaws within the Justice System(British but also very relevant for U.S viewers), Trauma, Abuse, Power Dynamics between men/women, Gender-roles in society, you name it.

If it’s an issue or a topic that has been brought up in the past decade it was included in Anatomy of a Scandal and that, to me, was sort of an issue.

So many different themes and so many different viewpoints are hard to properly touch on while showing proper respect to the severity of an issue. Anatomy of a Scandal does a pretty good job balancing things, but the pacing of the show definitely suffered a bit because of it.

However, that being said, by the end of the show I thought “yeah, this could definitely happen and probably does happen a lot more than people think”

How I Recommend Watching it

I recommend watching Anatomy of a Scandal over a short period of time.

The show is very easy to binge-watch so if you’d prefer to watch it all in one sitting or over the course of a day you shouldn’t have much of an issue.

The cliff-hangers, plot twists, and impeccable dialogue draw you in and leave you emotionally attached to most, if not all, of the characters in the show.

You can watch it on Netflix with a subscription.

Should you watch?

Anatomy of a Scandal is one of those shows that I think everyone should watch, not only because it’s, well, a good show and entertaining, but because it does a good job with making the viewer ask questions about the gray areas of topics such as Justice, Morality, and even Love.

It has an incredibly talented cast where not one single character doesn’t perform well in their role, no matter how big or how small.

Terrific writing and, sometimes beautifully poetic dialogue tend to get overshadowed by the fast pacing of the show. An extra episode or two could have solved this problem but I think the story itself was very well put together, even though somewhat angering and predictable at times.

I am a huge fan of a well written character and Anatomy of a Scandal does a terrific job with creating complex and realistic characters. There was only one major plot hole that confused me but I let it slide because, hey, no story is perfect.

Anatomy of a Scandal can be watched, and enjoyed, in a plethora of ways. Whether you’re binge-watching or breaking it up into several viewings, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll find it engaging, thrilling, and emotional.

Because the show is a direct adaption of a book, I’m sure there will be plenty of readers upset with the television adaptation because, well, you gotta cut some stuff out. I haven’t read the book, but may in the future.

The only people I wouldn’t recommend this show to are those who don’t like shows with the very British feel to it.

I give Anatomy of a Scandal 9 powdered wigs out of 10.

I’ve attached the trailer below so you can check it out yourself!

Trailer

Official Trailer for Anatomy of a Scandal

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