‘Light-hearted and beautifully shot’
The Durrells review by Jennifer AJ
The Durrells is a 1930s-set comedy-drama series that ran on ITV from 2016 to 2019. The series is based on the real-life Durrell family’s accounts about their years living on the Greek Island of Corfu.
Watching the show is like watching a chaotic travel show featuring a dysfunctional, ever-bickering family. Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes - Life on Mars, Bodyguard, Line of Duty) is a widow living with her four children in Bournemouth. Beset with financial setbacks after her husband’s death, Louisa decides to uproot her entire family to Corfu in search of a respite. On the sunny Mediterranean haven, the Durrells begin to heal as they navigate the language barrier, cultural differences and dwindling income.
The Durrells are your typical rowdy sitcom family. Always exasperated, Mrs Durrell is barely getting it together with four children and a money problem. Throughout the series, Louisa is going through a poignant midlife crisis of her own, yearning to rediscover life that seems to have passed her by. Firstborn Larry, played by pre-The Crown Josh O’Connor, is an aspiring writer with an acerbic tongue and some brazen ideas. It was his idea that they move to Greece. Only girl Margo (Daisy Waterstone) is supposed to be a marriage-obsessed airhead but her naivete actually produces some of the show’s most thought-provoking lines. Leslie (Callum Woodhouse - All Creatures Great and Small) is the trigger-happy middle son, always the source of shenanigans around town. Lastly, there’s the youngest boy Gerald “Gerry” Durrell (Milo Parker), a wide-eyed explorer who sees the magic and wonder of the island’s wilderness from the very beginning. Fun fact: Gerry’s real-life counterpart was also behind the three autobiographical books detailing the family’s Corfu life.
At first glance, the family of five is so coarse with each other. Larry and Louisa, in particular, argue like sailors while the rest of the kids are always ready with petulant comebacks of their own. However, underneath it all, they’re still reeling from the death of their patriarch. In their own abrasive ways, the Durrells express their love for each other.
Every episode, the family gets up to various hijinks especially due to the language barrier and culture shock. They also deal with poverty, having to live without electricity and proper sewage in a dilapidated house, though it might be suspending disbelief since their house looks like a Pinterest rustic home rather than a squalid one. With matriarch Louisa at the centre of the story, the series also occasionally makes some pointed commentaries about the plight of motherhood and womanhood in the series’ signature black humour.
Shot on location in Corfu, the series captures the gorgeous landscape of the Greek island with sweeping, lush cinematography. From the picturesque mountainous town and its inhabitants, the serene blue ocean surrounding it, all the way to the Durrells’ bucolic home atop a hill, it’s giving a major cottage-core vibe. You can almost taste the salty air as you watch the family go about their lives on the sun-dappled seaside mountain as if they’re in a perpetual summer.
Light-hearted and beautifully shot, The Durrells’ tale of a family’s effort to rebuild after tragedy is an expat fantasy done right.
Published on September 2nd, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.