I’ll watch pretty much any British period drama that’s available to me because I like cool costumes and accents. Penny Dreadful? Sign me the hell up. Peaky Blinders? You bet your ass. The Crown? Ehhh, I don’t know, maybe. It’s maybe not technically a “period” drama, but I’d say 80 percent of the reason I’m still watching Game of Thrones is the prevalence of tight outfits. Anyway, you catch my drift.
There is, however, a problem with these shows that I didn’t even realize was a problem until recently. The problem is that the characters aren’t gross. Everyone in Penny Dreadful, which takes place in rat- and disease-infested Victorian London is hot and smooth and clean. Josh Hartnett qualifies as the “grimy one” here and yet he looks like a very smoochable folk singer. All the characters in Peaky Blinders have extremely dope haircuts and tailored suits and perfect teeth. I don’t know much about The Crown so please leave me alone about that, but don’t even get me started on Game of Thrones, which takes place in a medieval universe that is apparently lousy with waxing salons.
Anyway, all of this is to say that Taboo, the new FX show about Tom Hardy stabbing people and trying to fuck his sister, is a welcome corrective to all this tomfoolery. This show takes place in Georgian London, and let me tell you something my friends, everyone in it is fucking gross. Look at this guy:
And this poor fuck:
And these ladies:
This dude right here is actually something of a lady’s man in the show, and yet he’s constantly smudged and eating cow manure for fun:
This show is full of jaundiced, grimy English people with rotten teeth and filthy clothes that are often moist. The guy who plays Doug Stamper in House of Cards is in it and he looks like he eats nicotine soup for dinner every day. This is how the show portrays the Prince Regent of England:
(Tom Hardy still looks pretty good on this show, but there’s nothing anyone can really do about that.)
Why do I appreciate the fact that Taboo has viscerally disgusting characters? Mostly because it reminds me of a very important truth, which is that the past was a fucking nightmare and everything about it sucked. I watch Taboo and I think about the fact that George Washington was a toothless freak who probably smelled like horse piss at all times. I realize that Benjamin Franklin most likely had a dozen venereal diseases and extremely bad skin. I bet Thomas Edison hardly ever wiped and had a butt full of smelly poo most days.
These thoughts make me feel better about being alive now and not then, and that’s all anyone can really ask from a TV show in these trying times, you know? I’ll enjoy Taboo while I can, because I’m sure I will change my mind about it after Tom Hardy gets around to fucking his sister.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Taboo takes place in Victorian London. It actually takes place in Georgian London.
All images via FX