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BBC America’s ‘Mood’ Is an Impressionistic Portrait of a Talented Woman in Free Fall: TV Review

Nicôle Lecky as Sasha - Mood _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Natalie Seery/BBC Studios/Bonafide Films
Natalie Seery/BBC Studios/Bonafi

It might be tempting to dismiss passionate singer Sasha (creator Nicôle Lecky) as she spirals out of control and leaves her family, ex-boyfriend, and home in the dust. Tempestuous and desperate to become famous enough to achieve her dreams, Sasha is introduced to her audience in flashes of messy nights out, blurry memories of bad decisions past, careening camera angles and sporadic song breaks as her imagination runs wild and reveals glimpses into her psyche.

As based on Lecky’s 2019 monologue “Superhoe” (a great title sadly lost in translation) and directed by Stroma Cairns and Dawn Shadforth, “Mood” appears to tell the story of a woman determined to burn her life to the ground. Instead, the BBC show (premiering Nov. 6 on BBC America and AMC+) becomes something else — and then something else, and something else, and something else. One after the other, Lecky’s shrewd scripts peel off layers of Sasha’s thick skin to uncover the kernel of vulnerable 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 a homeless musician to an uber-glam influencer, to a secret sex worker, to someone who can finally accept a home that lets her be her most comfortable self. Along the way, she finds a twisted kind of friendship turned business partnership with cam girl Carly (Lara Peake), secretly writes her own songs, and navigates the constant degradation of casual racism. (Her white mother, played by Jessica Hynes, had Sasha as an overwhelmed teen, and is now an overwhelmed, middle-aged woman who doesn’t understand what Sasha goes through daily, and has long since decided not to ask.) All this makes for a whole lot of character development to ask of six episodes, and it might have been interesting to see what “Mood” could’ve done given twice the time to tell Sasha’s story. Then again, being forced to do so with not just style, but efficiency, makes the breadth of its arc that much more impressive.  

Much of the credit for “Mood” goes to its soundtrack, incorporating original songs spanning several genres, all led by Lecky (who, it must be said, has a great voice that instantly sells the urgency of Sasha finding her way in music). That, plus the often dizzying directing and cinematography from Molly Manning Walker and Nick Morris, give the show the constant sense of living on the edge between victory and oblivion. The deeper Sasha falls down the hole of Carly’s alternate life (a creeping horror that both Lecky and Peake embody beautifully), the more disorienting “Mood” itself becomes. When the root cause of Sasha’s panic, shame and defiance reveals itself, it comes as a shock, but not exactly a surprise. Even when Sasha has trouble finding her voice, the series rarely does.

“Mood” premieres Sunday, November 6 at 10 pm EST on BBC America and AMC+.