What Are You Watching? ‘Happy Valley’


4 out of 5 stars

My fascination with British television continues with “Happy Valley,” a crime drama filmed in Northern England starring Sarah Lancashire, who was also in “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Julia” — two more of my favorites. Lancashire plays Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood, whose daughter Becky died by suicide shortly after giving birth. Cawood is raising her grandson with help from her sister Clare, played by Siobhan Finneran, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Cawood and her husband divorced after the trauma of losing their daughter, who it turns out was raped by a thug who is still around, causing more trouble for more people.

Cadwood’s police work is relentless when she realizes she’s going after her daughter’s rapist, who is now out of prison and involved in a kidnapping. We see Cadwood visiting her daughter’s grave, struggling with raising her 10-year-old grandson, and still having feelings for her ex-husband, who is now married to someone else. The characters and their very human portrayals resonate, even though there is serious crime and a relapse in recovery, as well as other family conflicts, going on. 

One of the aspects I really enjoyed was watching the two sisters and their relationship unfold. They support each other through all sorts of ups and downs, and their connection is believable. I had read about “Happy Valley” someplace, and then went searching for it on all my streaming options and found it on Apple TV and Amazon Prime, although I did end up purchasing it. The series runs two seasons, with a third set to air in January 2023. Lancashire has won numerous acting awards, some for this series. If you like detective stories and strong female roles, you’ll like this one.