Douglas Is Cancelled: Season 1 Review

Hugh Bonneville as Douglas downplaying the situation he is in

Karen Gillan shines as she plays opposite Hugh Bonneville in a mini-series about a veteran journalist who might get cancelled due to an off-color joke.


Plot Summary

“Douglas is Cancelled” focuses on a veteran in news journalism named Douglas, who allegedly told a sexist or misogynistic joke recently at a wedding. The joke is pushed to be the kind that could ruin a career in today’s climate. So from his wife, Sheila, who is the editor of a newspaper, his co-presenter, Madeline, to his producer, Toby, and agent, Bently, they all try to find a way to get ahead of the scandal as Douglas makes things worse episode by episode.

Characters and Cast


Character’s NameActor’s Name
DouglasHugh Bonneville
SheilaAlex Kingston
MadelineKaren Gillan
TobyBen Miles
BentlySimon Russell Beale
ClaudiaMadeleine Power

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. Episodes contain mid-credit scenes

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Watch This)

Good If You Like

  • Mysteries
  • Blurry relationships between characters

Similar To This


  1. The Wasp: Starring Natalie Dormer and Naomi Harris, prepare for twists, reveals, and a shocking ending that reminds you the writing needs to match the performances for any surprises to work.
  2. Wicked Little Letters: In a comedy that evolves over time, a handful of wicked letters explores what it means to be a woman in small-town Britain in the 1920s.
  3. Alias Grace: Alias Grace is a reminder that big and showy performances are by no means needed to get the point across. Sometimes just a bit of coyness, dagger like stares, and a tad bit of mystery is all that is needed for entertaining and award-worthy performances.

Check out our TV series page for our latest recaps, reviews, and recommendations.

Highlights

Karen Gillan as Madeline

While most of us are at least aware of Karen Gillan due to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” I’d submit what she performs in that franchise, and the MCU is a limited depiction of what she can do. Other films, like “Duel,” allow you to see a different side of her and her craft, and I’d submit “Douglas Is Cancelled” is a showing of what a nearly two-decade career produces.

As the lead actress, someone who questionably is on Douglas’ side or maybe is more focused on their own ambitions, the back and forth makes you feel as manipulated as Douglas. Yet, there are times when you question, similar to Paris Hilton, if maybe what Gillan is doing as Madeline is lowering people’s defense and expectations to seem non-threatening? Only to surprise those who have underestimated her and go for their jugular?

But, one of the beautiful things about how Madeline is crafted is, you get to see the making of her to a certain point. You see and hear her talk about studying Douglas, learning about the news from Sheila’s methods, and combining that with social media to catapult her career and even give her a weapon against the old guard. So as she tries to help Douglas fight cancellation, this push and pull makes it so, even if this show is about Bonneville’s character, Gillan ultimately makes Madeline the focal point.

Where Have All The Good Men Gone?

“Not all men” is a response many guys have when a general statement is made, especially by women. Yet, we’re reminded through watching Douglas that the problem with those who use that phrase is that they may claim their fellow men as part of their community but don’t hold them accountable.

Those like Douglas might be an exception to the rule someone has experienced in their life, but they are more than willing to turn a blind eye or ear to what they see or hear. Heck, they may even ask if rumors are true, but they don’t too often try to expose the rotten amongst their circles or even so much as protect those vulnerable enough to fall prey.

It’s not a big part of the season, but the question of why good men stand by and let others make it hard to trust them is an impactful thing to watch, and it could cause some reflection.

While Feminism Is Beautiful, Don’t Undermine The Story Of One

It’s easy to love Madeline and see her as flawless, but she isn’t. One of the things that could be considered what makes her layered is the fact that, while she believes in equality, the word “feminist” causes some unease. In some ways, the reconciliation between the pride of being a woman and the complications that go beyond attempts at oppression, as well as the praise for simple being, reminded me of Jules, of Euphoria, talking about being trans.

Now, with Hunter Schafer writing that episode, it goes farther than Madeline gets to go and is far more personal. But, what Steffan Moffat delivers, as does Karen Gillan, is a reminder of the complications that come from being lifted up and expected to not only contribute your accomplishments to things that are beyond your control but also expected to be a model and person whose representation makes it easier for those who follow.

The Rehearsal Interview

While the rehearsal interview, which caps off the season finale, is supposed to be practice for Douglas having a 90-minute interview about his career, what it becomes is what seals the deal for you recognizing Gillan’s talents and Bonneville’s. In true season finale and series finale fashion, everything builds towards that scene. What little we got to see of Madeline maybe not always being so cheery, Douglas maybe not just being a nice old man towards the end of his career, and others revealing their true selves is put on full display. Even for characters like Claudia, who don’t really have that breakout moment, they too become an asset to the show and necessary for it to end on a high note.

The Comedy

In most of the review, our focus is very much on the drama, some element of mystery, but that isn’t the sole thing “Douglas Is Cancelled” offers. In fact, while Gillan dominates a lot of the praise or scenes Madeline is in, I’d have to give Alex Kingston as Sheila the crown when it comes to comedic moments. Whether dealing with her underling at her job, Douglas, Claudia, Toby, or Madeline, she brings the funny.

Now, is she sometimes the butt of the joke? Yes. But I’d say, in comparison to Gillan, Kingston is allowed to play with her scene partners in a way that makes it feel like they could both benefit. Compared to Gillan’s scenes, which often push her forward and her scene partners firmly into a supporting role.

On The Fence

The Give And Take Of A Tight Four Episodes

One of the unfortunate things about mini-series, especially British mini-series, is that, while often good, they leave quality acting and potential stories on the table. Sheila, for example, the woman who has destroyed good people to maintain her paper’s circulation, has the type of personality and story you’d love to get a mini-series of her own.

The same goes for Toby. He is a producer walking on eggshells with the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, and fearful of anything that can come off as racist or sexist and may require an NDA. Add in Bently, who is a conniving agent who somehow has kept Douglas as a talent, and you have a string of characters who all feel like they can star in their own mini-series and deliver something special.

Claudia

The best thing I can say about Claudia is that she is supposed to represent what Madeline potentially feels. While Madeline can’t be beyond 40, it was in her 20s that she was making headway and going from aspiring to be like her hero, Douglas, to maybe working with him as a colleague. In my mind, that first taste that Douglas isn’t who she conjured up in her head was at a book signing when Madeline was a few years older than Claudia.

So, as Madeline wrestles with who Douglas is, in a way, you can see Claudia go through that same realization Madeline did. This man isn’t a hero, someone who’d never lie to her, but is very much human. The type of human who is flawed and tries to be good while surrounding himself with reminders of what bad is. Not just because they are talented or well connected, but seemingly to remind himself of where the line is so he has a field to drunkenly dance through and maintain the idea he is not like them.

But while we can spin Claudia to be like a young Madeline coming of age and having her rose-colored glasses taken off, we also have to admit she is annoying in the worst way. Yes, her back and forth with Sheila can be comical, but she is also written to be a social justice warrior type who, at most, may sacrifice some money towards a cause but wouldn’t go so far as to put herself in harm’s way. This isn’t to say the work she does is meaningless, but the way Claudia is written and performed is that of a person who is looking for a fight, not to educate or pave the path toward reconciliation.

Background Information

NetworkITV1
Genre(s)Comedy Drama Mystery
Content Information
DialogDiscriminatory Language, Cursing
ViolenceN/A
Sexual ContentUncomfortable Situations
MiscellaneousDrinking

Listed Under Categories: , , , ,


Douglas Is Cancelled: Season 1 Review
Hugh Bonneville as Douglas downplaying the situation he is in

Title: Douglas Is Cancelled: Season 1 Review

Description: Karen Gillan shines as she plays opposite Hugh Bonneville in a mini-series about a veteran journalist who might get cancelled due to an off-color joke.

Start date: June 28, 2024

End date: June 28, 2024

Number of episodes: 4

Season number: 1

Part of series: Douglas Is Cancelled

Author: Amari Allah

Production company: ITV1

Director(s): Ben Palmer

Actor(s): Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston, Karen Gillan, Ben Miles, Simon Russell Beale, Madeleine Power

Official Site

Summary

Beyond the BAFTAs, I’m not sure what other awards there are in the UK and Europe, but whoever produces those shows needs to shine up Karen Gillan’s award because she delivered the type of performance that becomes a pedestal in someone’s career. I’d dare even say it may become one of the top performances this year.

Overall
83%
83%
  • Karen Gillan as Madeline - 92%
    92%
  • Where Have All The Good Men Gone? - 83%
    83%
  • While Feminism Is Beautiful, Don't Undermine The Story Of One - 82%
    82%
  • The Rehearsal Interview - 88%
    88%
  • The Comedy - 84%
    84%
  • The Give And Take Of A Tight Four Episodes - 78%
    78%
  • Claudia - 75%
    75%
Sending
User Review
0/100 (0 votes)

Highlight(s)

  • The Comedy
  • The Rehearsal Interview
  • While Feminism Is Beautiful, Don’t Undermine The Story Of One
  • Where Have All The Good Men Gone?
  • Karen Gillan as Madeline

Disputable

  • Claudia
  • The Give And Take Of A Tight Four Episodes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.