Hugh Grant does justice to ‘A Very English Scandal’

Hugh Grant stars in “A Very English Scandal.”
Kieron McCarron/BBC/Blueprint Television Ltd
Hugh Grant stars in “A Very English Scandal.”

Before it gets lost in the uninterrupted rush of TV content, I want to remind you about “A Very English Scandal.” The fact-based three-part miniseries premiered on Amazon a few weeks ago, and it’s worth checking out, not least of all to see Hugh Grant essentially turn his rom-com movie persona on its head.

Grant is remarkable as British MP Jeremy Thorpe, who is arrested on charges of trying to have his ex-lover, a man (played by Ben Whishaw), murdered by some bumbling thugs. Set in the 1960s and ’70s, the story is about the lengths Thorpe would go to in order to stay in the closet. At the time of his gay affair, being gay wasn’t just a political liability and a socially unacceptable thing; it was illegal.

Grant is slimy, funny, dramatic, and, at moments, sympathetic — but mostly slimy. The miniseries is directed by Stephen Frears, who also directed Grant in another against-type performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Grant’s Thorpe is so smugly aristocratic, and his intended victim, Norman Scott, is so poor, that “A Very English Scandal” ultimately expands into a striking look at class and wealth, and how the justice system can be affected by them.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.