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3 reasons to watch Patrick Melrose on Netflix

Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose.
Showtime

It must be Benedict Cumberbatch’s month at Netflix. In addition to his new Netflix original series, Eric, the streamer has picked up Patrick Melrose, a 2018 drama miniseries that features Cumberbatch in the title role.

Patrick Melrose was acclaimed during its initial American run on Showtime. The five-episode miniseries is based on Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novels. And now that the show is poised for an even bigger audience, here are three reasons why you should watch Patrick Melrose on Netflix.

Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a powerful performance

Benedict Cumberbacth in Patrick Melrose.
Netflix

Have you ever known Benedict Cumberbatch to be bad in anything? He is an actor’s actor, and he has a gift for making even the most unlikeable characters compelling. But Patrick Melrose the show and the title character really push Cumberbatch to the limit. Patrick is hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol, and he’s willing to burn any bridges for his next high just to escape the enormous pain from his past.

The five-episode miniseries slowly peels back the layers of Patrick’s personality as viewers discover why he’s so haunted by his past and why he always comes back to his old vices. While Patrick is a tragic figure, Cumberbatch never lets go of his inherent humanity. And because we like Cumberbatch as an actor, it’s easy to root for Patrick to find his way back from the abyss.

It has a strong supporting cast

Hugo Weaving in Patrick Melrose.
Netflix

As good as Cumberbatch is, he couldn’t hold up this series alone. Although ironically, Cumberbatch’s most memorable co-star in this show is someone whom he doesn’t get to share any significant time with. Hugo Weaving portrays Patrick’s father, David Melrose, opposite Sebastian Maltz as the younger Patrick. Almost all of Patrick’s pain stems from the abuse that his father put him through, and Weaving is very convincing as a monstrous parent.

However, Patrick’s mother, Eleanor Melrose, can’t be let off the hook for her role in his childhood. Jennifer Jason Leigh gives Eleanor a different type of dysfunction. Instead of abusing Patrick, she emotionally neglects him and she doesn’t stand up to her husband when he hurts their son. Patrick’s emotional wounds cut so deeply that Eleanor doesn’t seem to understand just how badly she hurt him when he’s an adult.

There are other good performances throughout by Anna Madeley, Pip Torrens, Indira Varma, Holliday Grainger, and others. But Weaving and Leigh have the strongest supporting turns.

It’s a redemption story

Benedict Cumberbatch in Patrick Melrose.
Netflix

You should know going in that Patrick Melrose can be difficult to watch. As many times as the title character attempts to move forward with his life, he also slips back into his addictions. That’s his way of coping with emotional pain, and it comes at the expense of everything else in his life, including his own wife and children.

Patrick Melrose spans decades in the life of one man, and it shows the audience all aspects of his character. This isn’t a story with a simple conclusion or anything that resembles a “happily ever after” ending. But this is a redemption story. Patrick may not be able to get back everything he loses over the course of his life, yet it’s worth taking the journey with him to see Patrick find some level of peace within himself.

Watch Patrick Melrose on Netflix.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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