TV shows

In ‘Come Home’ TV show, a home turns into a battlefield

The BBC mini-series depicts a disintegrating family trying to understand what went wrong.

The end of a marriage is an enduring premise for a TV show. The story of divorce and child custody has been told many times before – there are the similar and familiar struggles, awkwardness, pain and resolution. The challenge for any TV show that takes on a divorce is to depict it differently.

This is what BBC’s Come Home attempts to do in its three one-hour episodes about a family being torn apart. Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, The A Word) is Greg, a middle-aged man whose wife walked out on him and her children some 11 months ago. No reasons are given and no signs are visible – to him, at least. His wife of 19 years, Marie (Paula Malcomson) loves her two teenagers Liam and Laura, and five-year old daughter Molly, but cannot bear to spend another minute under the same roof with the man with whom she has built this life.

The mini-series depicts a disintegrating family trying to understand what went wrong. The first two episodes are told from the point of view of Greg and Marie, respectively.

Greg is struggling to keep his life together, and the children aren’t doing much better either. With Marie gone, it’s all still new and difficult. But he believes he deserves some fun. When his awkward first date doesn’t go too well, he finds himself attracted to and involved with Brenna (Kerri Quinn), an acquaintance whom he rescues as she is being assaulted by her abusive partner. Soon enough, he invites her and her young son into his home, much to the shock and displeasure of his brood.

Marie gets an episode too, and this is where we get a glimpse into the struggles of a 40-something woman who decides to move out for the sake of her own peace and happiness. As one would imagine, it isn’t easy. She still meets her 14-year-old daughter for lunch sometimes, finds it hard to face old friends when she bumps into them, and is struggling to get back out there with the help of app-based dating sites. We are introduced to her relationship with her own mother. As grave secrets and old truths come to light, they add a new, unexpected perspective to a mostly straightforward plot.

Come Home.

The series finale attempts to provide some resolution to the whole situation, to only mildly satisfying results. After Laura gets embroiled in the abusive drama that Brenna brings with her, Marie decides that she wants her kids back and takes her ex-husband to court. This is where the two sides of the story come face-to-face. Through a series of confessions, inquiries and flashbacks we are given an idea of the exhaustion and decline that has set into their lives. The shows portrays a dysfunctional marriage with all the issues that come with it – post-natal depression, emotional control, loss of identity, deceit, infidelity, guilt and regret, angry teenagers and abuse.

Separation and divorce are not easy subjects, and do not necessarily make for the most binge-worthy TV. But what saves the show from becoming yet another study of the machinations of a separation is Eccleston’s masterful balancing of tragedy with comedic awkwardness and BAFTA-winning screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst’s deeply emotional writing about a home that has turned into a battlefield.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.