Being Human (TV Series) - Reception

Reception

The pilot episode was not widely reviewed, and some reviews were not necessarily positive. A review in the Daily Telegraph called the pilot one of BBC Three's "wildly uneven" new shows. Brian McIver, writing for the Daily Record felt the show lacked sex appeal and that the plot was boring, and concluded: "so what?" But, by late January 2009, the Daily Record reported that most of the reviews of the pilot had raved about the new show. Viewership for the pilot was very high, and a massive online petition drive helped turn the pilot into a series.

Reception of the series has been extremely favourable. Stephen Armstrong in The Guardian gave the show a warm review, noting that its primary appeal was not supernatural or horror. It was, he wrote, "a curious genre mash-up drama about a ghost, werewolf and vampire sharing a flat in Bristol, which deals more with the horror of living in modern Britain than the horror of the undead." David Belcher writing in the Glasgow Herald was effusive, however, calling the series "Easily the sole good programme on BBC3... Being Human: the supernatural drama that's super in its depiction of human nature. At the conclusion of the first season, Andrea Mullaney of The Scotsman had high praise for the show's premise and writing:

The series started well and seemed to get better almost every week. By last night's conclusion, it had matured into a marvellously enjoyable and surprisingly affecting show, which turned its punchline of a premise into a metaphor for everyday struggles to make connections, overcome their selfishness and insecurities and to live a decent life. ... Remarkably un-clichéd and well written by Toby Whithouse, this was hugely better than most other British attempts at genre shows — the ropey Torchwood, the dreadful Demons and even most recent episodes of Doctor Who.

When it debuted on BBC America in 2009, the show won similar plaudits. The Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin praised the show's balance of humour and pathos: "What it is is darkly funny, deeply affecting and utterly cockeyed, a work that celebrates life by dwelling on death, love by abiding loneliness. It's a tale of cold, dead noses pressed up against the window pane of humanity. ... But for all the laughs, Being Human never loses sight of the menace of its characters." Writing in the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley called the series "compelling" and praised its equal emphasis on horror, remorse, and humour:

Three young friends share a shabby apartment in Bristol, England, as well as secrets, and those sound like the set-up to a corny joke — a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf walk into a bar. Only in this case the bar is a pub and there is no punch line. Being Human takes the killing — and the perpetrators' anguished remorse — seriously, but still manages to find the humour in their predicament as these monsters in human form struggle to blend into normal, almost Seinfeldian life that includes work, going out on dates and having the tedious neighbors over for drinks. ... All three characters are highly appealing, but the charm of the show lies in the delicate balance of engrossing drama and disarming humor; the series is not campy or self-conscious, it's witty in an offhand, understated way.

Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Mary McNamara lauded the show's humour, but emphasized its moral seriousness and metaphorical nature. "espite more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, Being Human is no sitcom, no Will & Grace with monsters," she wrote. "Creator Toby Whithouse takes all the themes associated with the cursed and the damned very seriously, and if his exploration of them is less baroque than other franchises, it promises to be even more effective. Addiction is the obvious comparison, and Whithouse makes it nicely — the relationship between John and Lauren (Annabel Scholey), the woman he hopes is his last victim, plays like classic junkie love."

The praise has continued throughout the series' run. Matt Roush from TV Guide, having given critical plaudits to the third season, said of the series: "Can't recommend it highly enough." Reviewing the Series 3 Blu-ray release, the Wichita Falls Times-Record-News noted: "So many movies and TV programs will suggest how evil people can be and how much characters can suffer. Being Human actually can make viewers feel something of that horror and awfulness." Melinda Houston, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, applauded the way the show took the common television theme of the "disenfranchised...suddenly retaliat" and inverted it. "Moving beyond the teen tropes, it sets itself squarely in a mire of 20-something Gen Y angst. Being special and having power has no upside; being different is a burden and a nuisance and all anyone wants is a life of ordinariness."

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