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The Mean Streets of Peaky Blinders

Netflix's newest gangster drama deserves the top spot on your binge watch list.


At this year’s Sundance, writer/director Steven Knight hung around for a Q&A following the screening of Locke, his latest film starring Tom Hardy. During the chat, Knight teased audiences with his new British TV crime drama that would “hopefully” make it across the pond. Well, it did, with Tom Hardy in tow.

Set in post-WWI England, Peaky Blinders tells the saga of the Shelbys, a close-knit family gang named after the razorblades tucked into their peaked newsboy caps. The gang’s unofficial leader is Thomas Shelby – played bloody well by Cillian Murphy – who guides his dapper crew through deadly games of “Let’s Make a Deal” with rival gangsters and law officials alike.

Murphy’s performance dominates the small screen – especially now that Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson has left Atlantic City.

peaky blinders boardwalk empire

Still, Peaky Blinders is no Boardwalk Empire. The American glitz and glamor is replaced by a grittier palette, chewier accents, lots of tweed, and calculated scenes that look like they were stripped from a Nicolas Winding Refn film. It’s Guy Ritchie without the fanboy action. It’s Sons of Anarchy with literal horsepower and dialogue that cuts to the herringbone. In an era overstuffed with killer television, creator Steven Knight has crafted a truly original thriller.

Like the equally addictive BBC crime drama Top of the Lake, Blinders plays out as one long movie; it’s best consumed in one sitting with a bottle of bourbon. The show doesn’t bait you with cliffhangers (until the finale, of course), and each episode begins and ends with contemporary music from The White Stripes, Tom Waits, or Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

cillian murphy peaky blinders

Why use the music of now? For starters, it’s a way to pull period programming out of that funk that often causes audiences to lose interest. The tunes give each historical scene a modern context that people can recognize. Baz Luhrmann’s fantastic at this; just look at how he used Jay Z’s music to soundtrack The Great Gatsby.

As for Tom Hardy, he shows up as a Jewish gangster moonlighting as a baker in season two. Lucky for us, the first six episodes of the second season are already available on Netflix. Season three, however, may have other plans. At Sundance, Knight told Flicks and the City that he dreams to make a feature film out of season three, then continue the narrative on the small screen with season four.

peaky blinders cillian murphy tom hardy

Here’s to hoping dreams come true. In the meantime, where’s that second bottle of bourbon?

What are you waiting for? Get lost in Peaky Blinders today!