Drive By Review: Babylon Berlin

It’s a German drama on Netflix. 

I found the setting interesting, Berlin in 1929.  The Weimar Republic is tottering on its last legs.  It’s really only a matter of who is going to take over, either the Nazis or the Communists, there is no real if.  The country is in a state of extreme moral collapse due to the devastation and social upheaval that losing World War One brought down upon Germany’s head.  Berlin is dizzy and decaying. There is no manner of vice that isn’t readily available. Those that lived through the Great War aren’t so much survivors as they are the walking dead. It actually was a bit worse than it is today because there were no social safety nets. It was a more savage time because literal survival is on the line.

Nihilism is at the core of this story but for once it’s appropriate.  All of the characters are pretty much impossible to like, yet even the designated villains come off as rather sympathetic at times.  The fact that I don’t like the characters doesn’t mean that they aren’t well constructed.

It has a Mystery Box opening but I can forgive that as there is something inside the box.  The show opens with a train robbery or at least that’s what it appears to be.  But after the train robbers have murdered the crew, instead of removing anything, they add a tanker car to the train and then the train continues on it’s journey to Berlin.  It was a good start.

Our heroes are a drug addled detective with crippling PTSD and his part-time sectary/part-time prostitute/part-time girlfriend, who wants to be a policewoman, (decent overlap of her skill sets, so it’s not unreasonable). Along the way they deal with Communists, proto-Nazis and corrupt officials. They comb the mean streets and go to sleazy cabarets.

This show is very, very gritty.  If you are looking for light entertainment look elsewhere.  This is a vivid portrait of a civilization so rotten that it has to collapse. And collapse it will on Black Friday 1929.

But if the period of Weimar Germany interests you, it’s worth a look.

Warning: partial nudity

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