There have been some strong TV dramas this year that have not been afraid when it comes to tackling raw human emotions and actions, such as I May Destroy You and I Hate Suzie, and now, we can add Adult Material to that pile, a drama that isn’t afraid to show the ugly side of the adult industry and the lingering, damaging impact it can have on those involved. We follow Hayley Burrows – known in the industry as Jolene Dollar – trying to balance her double life as both a hard-working mother-of-three and as a famously successful porn star, however, it all comes crashing down when a new girl in the industry gets into trouble, both for herself and for Hayley.

This series is very bold and risky when it comes to its subject matter and how the show tackles that particular subject, refusing to shy away from the ugly and the horrifying despite having some light-hearted and tender moments along the way. This show explores the divide between rape and consent, work and survival, the duality of celebrity and parent, and how there are no easy solutions to difficult situations. Creator Lucy Kirkwood explores the subject matter very carefully, and it’s to her credit that it never becomes exploitative, morally-irresponsible, overly-cynical, or even mean-spirited, always managing to show humanity and light amidst the darkness of it all.

At the centre of it all is Hayley, and her character-growth throughout the course of this series is brilliantly well-handled. As the series progresses, her character progresses, despite the many stumbles she suffers through along the way. Nevertheless, she finds a way to pick herself back up by the end, even when the outcome isn’t easy, and all plaudits go to rising star Hayley Squires for capturing this beautifully, reminding us of her career-making turn in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.

Despite how bleak it gets, Adult Material is a TV show that deserves your attention and is not afraid of taking risks. It’s powerful, funny, dark, and, at times, harrowing, and it’s thanks to the team of creator Lucy Kirkwood and lead star Hayley Squires that they managed to pull it off with this much care and sensitivity.

Dir: Dawn Shadforth

Scr: Lucy Kirkwood

Cast: Hayley Squires, Sienna Kelly, Phil Daniels, Rupert Everett, Julian Ovenden, Kerry Godliman, Joe Dempsie

Music: Hannah Holland

Year: 2020

Country: UK

Number of Episodes: 4

Episode Runtime: 45-58mins

Adult Material will be released on DVD on November 2nd.

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