Rakhee Thakrar and Maxine Peake impress in Rules of the Game’s story of lies and deception

Murky green splintered glass. Reflected in the shards are Maya (Rakhee Thakrar) and Sam (Maxine Peake), as well as bearded men and office blocks.

What’s interesting about Rules of the Game is that its lead character Sam would, in another programme, be the villain: writer Ruth Fowler has spoken about how the miniseries was written in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and it’s notable that Fowler gives her lead lines originally said by Weinstein’s lawyer as part of his defence. Maxine Peake does well with the complexities to her character, from the steely public resolve to the private moments of concern – there’s a nice thread running through the drama about what she’ll excuse and what she won’t, what she’ll turn a blind eye to and what she doesn’t even notice in the first place. The series is, if not mired in ambiguity as such, certainly willing to indulge in it in a way that flatters its character drama.

Rakhee Thakrar is similarly impressive in a key role here, very much the way into the drama for viewers; she’s a consistently charming and sympathetic presence, likeable as she bristles against structures that have been in place since long before she arrived. Her role is well-characterised too, fleshed out quickly with beats that say a lot with a little. There’s a fantastic detail in the opening where Maya, clearly anxious, is listening to self-help tapes alone in her car – but skips through long sequences of the podcast, fast-forwarding and only listening specifically to the mantra.

New review of Rules of the Game for National World. Again, it’s sort of an interesting part of this new job, covering stuff like this – the sort of show that I probably wouldn’t have written about at all over the past few years, not really since I was at Yahoo (and even then it wouldn’t necessarily have been certain).

You can find more of my writing about television here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter.

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