Patrick Melrose: Miniseries (2018)

Patrick Melrose

Critics Consensus

Patrick Melrose is a scathing indictment of British high society's inherited dysfunction, cruelty, and the wealth that enables them. The Crown this ain't.



Critic Ratings: 67


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1871

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Air date: May 12, 2018
Air date: May 19, 2018
Air date: May 26, 2018
Air date: Jun 2, 2018
Air date: Jun 9, 2018

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Tv Season Info

Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the heir of a decadent and troubled aristocratic family, who had a traumatic childhood living with his abusive father David (Hugo Weaving) and mother Eleanor (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who condoned his behavior. Spanning Patrick's early childhood in the South of France in the 1960s to his adult life in New York and London, the series follows the harrowing quest of a wounded man and his attempts at redemption and reconstruction. Based on the novels by Edward St Aubyn.

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Critic Reviews for Patrick Melrose Miniseries

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (28)

An adaptation enfolding fidelity and freshness, Patrick Melrose continues to hover close to perfection.

Jun 4, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Everything is opulent, and everything is desperate: just right, in other words.

May 17, 2018 | Full Review…

A limited series can't only be about one man's performance, even if the actor does his part to earn the responsibility.

May 14, 2018 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Top Critic

Lucky the first episode of Patrick Melrose, based on the book Bad News, which aired on Sky Atlantic last night, renders all fears misplaced.

May 14, 2018 | Full Review…

Brilliant performance by a great actor in a desperately grim story.

May 11, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Even those who believe posh, rich people don't deserve to have problems might be won over by Cumberbatch.

May 11, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

English actor Benedict Cumberbatch portrays that tortured soul [Patrick Melrose] wonderfully. [Full review in Spanish]

May 14, 2019 | Full Review…

Cumberbatch is so alarmingly convincing in a wide range of drug-bonkers states - mind or body in meltdown, sometimes the two together - that you find yourself hoping against hope that he's not method acting.

Mar 8, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Bracingly inventive... Profound and important.

Dec 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Though [Benedict] Cumberbatch commands every frame like the ringmaster of a three-ring circus, there's not a lot of other acts going on at the circus.

Oct 29, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Patrick Melrose: Miniseries

  • 4d ago
    great show upsetting at times dark and interesting
  • Jun 23, 2019
    I can't understand the audience score. The story is very dark but Cumberbatch is brilliant with a top notch cast.
  • Jan 03, 2019
    superb. Wittily handling some very dark issues, each episode is a book in the writers series.
  • Nov 10, 2018
    Drug-infused comedy-drama from the BBC starring the estimable Benedict Cumberbatch. Saw episode one so far. Not to be missed. On Showtime
  • Nov 02, 2018
    Bestest series after Sherlock
  • Oct 05, 2018
    Brilliantly acted; equal parts hilarious and harrowing Directed by Edward Berger, and written for the screen by David Nicholls, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick, this five-part miniseries is based on the semi-autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn. Published between 1992 and 2011, the five novels were essentially part of St Aubyn's rehabilitation, as he battled a crippling series of addictions stemming from sexual abuse at the hands of his father when he was a child. The series has its flaws, but his portrayal of the various stages of addiction and recovery is good enough to paper over the cracks. Although the show's first episode does initially present Patrick's drug-addled behaviour as (relatively) funny (the scene where the Quaaludes kick in is especially hilarious), as the narrative settles into a darker vibe, most of the comedy is scaled back. Indeed, this well-balanced duality carries across all five episodes. Patrick knows the damage drugs are doing to him, yet he never loses his sense of caustic sarcasm about who he is. On the other hand, the show never strays into outright comedy at the expense of narrative believability - no matter how funny an individual moment may be, the totality, we are never allowed to forget, is rather bleak. Patrick is a fun character, articulate, intelligent, self-aware, but he is also a mess, and both his acerbic wit and his chemical dependency are at their height in this first episode. With that in mind, it is both the funniest and the darkest of the five; both a genuinely humorous physical comedy about the foibles of drug addiction and a horrifying descent into drug-induced psychosis. Each episode is grounded in a different genre, adopting the appropriate tone for that genre, and featuring a different colour palette from the others. "Bad News" is a yuppie version of Trainspotting, a dark night of the soul awash in non-diegetic purples and greens; "Never Mind" is a lurid, lazy summer retreat, similar in design to something like Call Me By Your Name, with a preponderance of deep yellows and reds; "Some Hope" is an Upstairs, Downstairs/Gosford Park-style comedy of manners, examining the ludicrousness of the class system, limiting the palette to mainly binary colours such as white and black; "Mother's Milk" is partly a fish-out-of-water story and partly a psychosexual intellectual drama; and "At Last" is a cold postmodern tragedy full of angst and unlooked-for self-discovery, dominated by metallics, greys, and blues. What Berger pulls off across these five hours is to force this compendium of different styles, themes, and tones into something resembling a cohesive artistic statement. The show employs a number of stylistic devices to draw us into Patrick's interiority - dialogue only Patrick and the audience can hear, unnatural lighting changes corresponding to his mood, glitches in the actual picture of the show itself in sync with his psychotic breaks, the bleeding of the past into the present (a room in the present will remind him of a room in the past, and suddenly he'll be there; a lizard walking on the wall when he was first raped by David is a recurring motif throughout the show; he opens a door in 1982, and we cut to him standing in an open doorway in 1967). Perhaps the show's most salient theme is the idea that when you deeply hurt a child, when you do something to damage a child's very soul, the effects will continue to be felt by any who come into contact with that child for many years after the fact. As is alluded to throughout the first episode, and as becomes painfully clear in the second, when he was a child, Patrick was completely at the mercy of an utter monster. After David calls young Patrick to his room, there is a shot of the perfectly-made bed. After Patrick leaves, however, there is a shot of the bed in disarray. We never see what happens, because we don't need to. This is as well-directed a bit of cinematic shorthand as you're likely to see. Another important theme is a mockery of the aristocracy, who are shown to be humourless, vainglorious prigs. The show depicts a decadent, toxic, emotionally calcified, and morally bankrupt class of people belonging to another age, that has somehow lingered into modernity and is desperately holding on to its outdated traditions. Of course, this also raises perhaps one of the most obvious objections to the show - "why should we care?" Well, in part, we shouldn't. Essentially, this is the story of a spoiled rich kid. It's the very definition of white male privilege, which isn't exactly a very sympathetic theme at the moment. And it never really manages to shake that identifying characteristic. But there is more to it than that. For the themes, for the humour, for what it says about the British peerage, and, especially, for Benedict Cumberbatch's performance, this is certainly worth checking out, as it remains always compelling - brilliantly acted, and with a lot to say about a myriad of issues.
  • Oct 03, 2018
    At first, I thought this show was very odd but I kept on watching. It turned out to be excellent! Cumberbatch is amazing in his role. I would love to see more shows based on books.
  • Sep 30, 2018
    I have never seen the subject of male childhood sexual abuse portrayed on the screen. Anyone taking on this subject would have to do it well, and darned good. Not only has Benedict Cumberbatch done that, everyone who worked on this cinematic masterpiece has done it as well. Ignored by the Emmys, but a masterpiece nonetheless. Anyone who understands childhood abuse understands the substance abuse, adult relationship troubles, sexual acting out, not able to fully bond with their children. Patrick Melrose has commendably told that story with masterful storytelling. The stories and performances were so real throughout this series. I am not surprised that it is getting poor audience reviews as the subject matter will likely not be embraced by everyone. And I suppose that we shouldn’t have been surprised either that it was likely too uncomfortable for Emmy voters. But that is all the more reason that this limited series deserves its accolades. To take on this taboo subject matter can be risky. But to do it with such honesty, sometimes humor, and the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch deserves all the respect that it has gotten. For those who may not find it too uncomfortable, I encourage you to see this series. If you know someone who has gone through this, maybe it will give you a window into their life. Well done Showtime and Mr. Cumberbatch.
  • Sep 28, 2018
    Cumberbatch does a one man show.
  • Sep 07, 2018
    I was looking for something fresh to watch and came across this by chance. I must say, as a mother of two, one being a boy, some parts were hugely disturbing to watch although nothing graphic was shown, but because of how the characters were evolved and how the scenes developed, a tremendous tension was present through so many episodes. An excellent cast, a brilliant performance and a gripping yet sad story.

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