Many of you will know that last week, the crime drama series Top Boy made an explosive comeback onto our screens. Its resurgence comes after superfan and rapper Drake teamed with the streaming powerhouse Netflix to revive the show, following its cancellation in 2014.
The new series opens up 6 years on from where we left off, except Summerhouse estate veterans Dushane and Sully are no longer the top boys. With Dushane (Ashley Walters) in exile in Jamaica and Sully (Kane “Kano” Robinson) in prison, consequently, the youngers on the block have filled the power vacuum they left and built a new empire. Leading the new generation is newcomer Jamie (Michael Ward), who is both a ruthless and charismatic young gangster with established connections with a new supplier, leaving no room for Dushane or Sully to come back and reclaim their throne.
Previously, Top Boy has gone to lengths to show the harsh reality of a life involved in a crime, drug-based gang and this time round shows no difference. It’s not only a story about gang culture, but about drug use, mental health within the black community, immigration, PTSD, gentrification and so much more. These are real issues that communities are facing and having 10 episodes as opposed to its standard 4 episode structure, evidently has created more space for the producers to really explore these stories in more detail.
“Is the juice worth the squeeze?” – Dushane
Now without exposing too many spoilers, episode 7 closes with a scene where Dushane asks this question to Sully following a tragic event. A poignant moment in the series which stuck out to me for a number of reasons and I’ll explain why.
For some, Top Boy will be an authentic, hard-hitting watch that they feel accurately represents the area they come from or even people they may know. For others, it may come as a shock that being involved in gang life is not as black and white as wanting to make money. Top Boy is not a show that glorifies crime, but instead portrays the bleak consequences of a broken system. It even had me questioning at times: is it really worth the squeeze? Is it really worth having to look over your shoulder every day? Is it really worth losing your friends?
This is why these stories need to be told. Top Boy does well to break the cognitive dissonance and highlight that the issues are more multifaceted than meets the eye. Thankfully, the writers have been able to maintain an even balance of remaining unapologetically true to London and humanising the statistics you see on the news. This is the side of London that we need to see and it has come at the perfect time. And if one thing is for sure, its that watching this season has definitely been worth the squeeze.
You can watch all the episodes of the new season of Top Boy on Netflix with a subscription.