Gentleman chicken image
Artwork by Rhea Brar

The Gentleman: the newest grade-A Netflix show to watch

The new highly touted Guy Ritchie series, The Gentlemen (a spin-off of the 2019 movie of the same name),  starts with the oft-repeated premise of an aristocratic firstborn being passed over for inheritance. However, once I finished the first episode, I knew I was in for something I had never seen before. The series follows the sons of a mysteriously wealthy Duke, Freddie Horniman (played by Daniel Ings), a cocaine-addicted misanthrope, and his younger brother Eddie (Theo James), a soldier with the UN. 

When his father’s will is read, Eddie unexpectedly inherits the late Duke’s estate, and goes to have a look around at his new land. Upon arriving, he realizes that one of his father’s properties is home to a large cannabis farm, operated by a mysterious woman, Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), on behalf of her father in prison. 

Initially skeptical at the idea of illegal business, Eddie quickly switches up when he sees the figure that his family has been receiving in exchange for the use of their land. He must navigate the uncertain world of gang warfare and international drug trading, encountering the finest outlaw businessmen in the UK along the way. He trades business deals and blows with a highly religious Scouse gang, a family of distribution specialist Irish Travellers, a crooked Boxing promoter, and many more colorful characters who all want a piece of the weed-farm pie. 

The Gentlemen pairs tense action and dramatic scenes, with comedy that walks the line between crude and dignified. While the main plotline excels on its own, the show really shines in its ability to layer that with both dramatic and comedic subplots. It explores several minor character’s stories in detail, and uses changing points-of-view as a tool to add depth to those that may only get a few lines in another series. 

Ritchie also does an excellent job developing his main characters as the story progresses. Characters such as Eddie and Susie have changing views and motivations, but shifts of opinion are always well justified, and thus feel like natural development. Acting from all of the main cast is both convincing and compelling, notably Daniel Ing as Freddie. Playing the “screw-up” addict brother, Ing’s emotional performance really puts the audience in the shoes of someone handed everything his whole life, only to realize that he isn’t anyone underneath all of that. This is just one of the many performances that catapults The Gentlemen’s characterization into the stratosphere. 

Because of its strong main characters, the series spends a lot of time able to explore side stories that are different and engaging, but always tie back to the core narrative in some way or another. Similarly, the fact that both the main plot and subplots have complex, varied emotional undertones helps to make the show as a whole engaging and hard to turn off, regardless of where you are in your watch-through.

When it comes to the episodes themselves, The Gentlemen starts off swinging, with the first 3 episodes providing strong introductions to the premise and characters, building anticipation for what is to come. While still entertaining, quality lags a bit in episodes 5 and 6, with subplots taking center stage and the main plot slowing down for a bit. 

Despite this, the main plot moves along, building intensity and raising the stakes as the series proceeds. In the final couple of episodes, the plot ends in a tense buildup with unexpected twists, tense action and negotiation all the way to the finish. If you’re looking for the next new Netflix binge watch, it is a must see, with action, comedy, and drama galore, and a bit of social commentary on the nature of aristocracy that seeks to be explored more in subsequent seasons.