‘Mood’ review: Nicole Lecky’s BBC America series tackles sex work and stardom

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It might be tempting to fire passionate singer Sasha (creator Nicôle Lecky) as she spirals out of control and leaves her family, her ex-boyfriend and her home in the dust. Stormy and desperate to become famous enough to fulfill her dreams, Sasha is introduced to her audience in flashes of messy parties, hazy memories of past bad decisions, sporadic camera angles and songs as her imagination goes wild and reveals glimpses of his psyche. .

Based on Lecky’s 2019 monologue “Superhoe” (a great title sadly lost in translation) and directed by Stroma Cairns and Dawn Shadforth, “Mood” seems to tell the story of a woman determined to burn her life. Instead, the BBC show (premiering Nov. 6 on BBC America and AMC+) becomes something else — then something else, and something else, and something else. One after another, Lecky’s clever scripts peel back the layers of Sasha’s thick skin to uncover the vulnerable kernel of truth at her center. (For American audiences: think “Rap Sh!t” plus “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” divided by “Fleabag.”)

Over the course of six episodes, Sasha goes from homeless musician, to ultra-glam influencer, to secret sex worker, to someone who can finally accept a home that allows her to be the most comfortable herself. . Along the way, she finds a kind of twisted friendship turned business partnership with cam girl Carly (Lara Peake), secretly writes her own songs, and navigates the steady degradation of casual racism. (Her white mother, played by Jessica Hynes, had Sasha as an overwhelmed teenager, and is now an overwhelmed middle-aged woman who doesn’t understand what Sasha goes through on a daily basis and has long since decided not to ask.) All of that makes up a lot of character development to ask for over six episodes, and it might have been interesting to see what “Mood” could have done with twice as much time to tell Sasha’s story. Then again, having to do this not just in style, but also in efficiency, makes the extent of his arc all the more impressive.

Much of the credit for “Mood” goes to its soundtrack, incorporating original songs spanning multiple genres, all helmed by Lecky (who, it must be said, has a great voice that instantly sells Sasha’s urgency to find her way in music). That, coupled with the often dizzying direction and cinematography from Molly Manning Walker and Nick Morris, gives the show a constant sense of living on the line between victory and oblivion. The deeper Sasha falls into the hole of Carly’s alternate life (a creepy horror that Lecky and Peake portray beautifully), the more disorienting “Mood” itself becomes. When the root cause of Sasha’s panic, shame, and defiance comes to light, it’s a shock, but not exactly a surprise. Even when Sasha struggles to find her voice, the show rarely does.

“Mood” airs Sunday, November 6 at 10 p.m. EST on BBC America and AMC+.

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