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Series / Patrick Melrose

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Patrick Melrose is a black comedy-drama miniseries airing on Showtime and Sky, based on Edward St. Aubyn's autobiographical novels. The series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Melrose, a Gentleman Snarker who has descended into drug addiction following years of brutal abuse by his father. Each episode takes place over the course of one or two days, with the setting varying from the south of France in the late 1960s to London in the mid 2000s.

The cast, in addition to Cumberbatch, includes Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Indira Varma, and Holliday Grainger.


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This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Patrick's main issue. His father is a monstrous child rapist, while his pill-addled/alcoholic mother clearly knows something is wrong but chooses to do nothing.
  • Arc Words: "Nobody should do that to anyone else".
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Patrick trying to walk to the bathroom after several quaaludes have kicked in. He's much more coordinated when he's walking back because he's done several lines of coke.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Melroses. Patrick was sexually abused by his father as a child, resulting in him becoming a drug addict and a alcoholic. He was also the product of rape when his father David forced himself on his mother Eleanor. David was likely abused himself by his father, but this doesn't excuse what he does to his own son.
  • Call-Back: Chilly Willy. In the first episode he is introduced to the viewer as one of many shady drug dealers, never to be heard from again. But he turns up in the third episode as a gifted musician, who had turned his life around. Patrick is genuinely happy to see him.
    • Chilly Willy: I was always a musician, man. I just uh, you know...
  • Cloudcuckoolander or Con Man: It's not exactly clear whether Seamus, who is the leader of the foundation, is one or the other, as Patrick puts it
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    • Patrick: My wife’s your great defender, Seamus. My theory is that you’re a bad man pretending to be an idiot. Whereas she thinks you’re merely an idiot.
  • Cowboy Episode: Anne and Eleanor visit a Wild West theme park in the South of France.
  • Dueling Shows: With The Crown; both are about the English upper class and feature Pip Torrens, but provide dramatically different takes on the morals of the elite.
  • Fun in the Funeral: In the first episode Patrick is at the funeral directors’ in New York to see his father’s corpse.
    • He is shown to a room, where the coffin is supposed to be. But when he opens the door to the room, he is baffled to find a funeral party with nice uplifting music and an avid waiter offering him drinks. Turns out it was not his father’s funeral.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Patrick Melrose of course, and since he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch he is also Tall, Dark, and Snarky, but David Melrose and Nicholas Pratt also qualify.
    Marianne’s Father: Marianne said he (David) was a remarkable man.
    Patrick: You should have heard the remarks!
  • Hearing Voices / Talking to Themself: When Patrick is having dinner alone while in New York, He is jetlagged, withdrawing from heroin, and high on speed and Quaaludes.
    Voices in his head: But not I, I eat not from greed, but from passion!
    Patrick: Oh do shut up! Will you?
    Waiter looks puzzled
    Patrick: No, not you. Someone else.
  • Impairment Shot: Once the Quaaludes kick in during lunch, Patrick's vision swims and he ends up drunkenly crawling around on the floor.
  • Internal Reveal: At the party in the third episode Patrick tells his best friend Johnny Hall that he was sexually abused by his father, when he was a child.
  • Kick the Dog: David on many occasions.
    • At the beginning of the second episode he is calmly talking to his servant Yvette, while she is carrying a heavy plate of expensive china. She struggles to hold the weight and is visibly shaking. However, she is too afraid of him to tell him that. He notices it and obviously enjoys it, even warning her to take care of the expensive china.
    • Also when he holds Patrick up in the air only by his ears after tricking him to trust him. It leaves Patrick screaming from pain.
  • Mercy Kill: In the fourth episode, Patrick's mother desperately seeks medically assisted suicide after illness leaves her incontinent and unable to speak.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The nebbishy philosopher Sir Victor is reportedly based on A. J. Ayer.
    • Averted with Princess Margaret, who's portrayed as an absolutely ghastly figure in Episode 3.
  • Moment Killer: A non-romantic example between Patrick and Johnny on the party in episode 3. Patrick finally tells Johnny that his father molested him as a child. After each painful sentence, a waiter comes along and offers them drinks and tells them that a firework show is about to start.
    • Patrick does not take it very well.
      Patrick: Do you think you could leave us alone for one FUCKING minute, so we can have a conversation? Do we look like children? Do we look like we’re interested in the FUCKING fireworks!?
  • Mushroom Samba: Patrick's entire world warps after taking injections of heroine and cocaine.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Patrick's aristocratic father was disowned by his grandfather, so he restored his fortunes by marrying Patrick's mother, an American heiress.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Patrick’s father David was disinherited by his parents, Patrick’s mother Eleanor and her sister Nancy were disinherited by their parents, and Eleanor bequeaths the family home in South France where Patrick spent most of his childhood to Seamus’ New-Agey foundation, leaving him nothing.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: In the second episode, Patrick’s father summons him to his bedroom to abuse him. Cut to the door being closed and locked by his father, and the camera pulling away very slowly.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Patrick. All the fucking time.
  • Social Climber: In 1967, Bridget is a quasi-hippie of middle-class origin, who's only invited to the Melrose's soiree because she's the sexy plaything of the much older Nicholas Pratt. In 1990, she's married a lord and is frantically trying to be a Proper Lady society hostess, going so far as to insist that her elderly mother not attend a party where nobility will be present.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Patrick's father not only physically and emotionally abused his son, he also molested him.
  • Your Cheating Heart Patrick cheats on Mary with his friend Julia after he invited her to their holiday home where his wife and children stay too. Mary knows.
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