The Book Group | This Girl's Bookshelf

The Book Group

This isn't a book review, but I think this post might be relevant to readers of this blog. I recently discovered a television series called The Book Group. It's a British series starring Anne Dudek, an actress whom you might not know but would certainly recognize - she has had a number of supporting roles on popular shows such as House, Desperate Housewives, Bones, Psych, Big Love and Mad Men. It was very satisfying to see her in a starring role, because I think she really is a great actress. Surprisingly, this show is actually an older one which was shot before many of her roles on American television.

Anne Dudek as part of the ensemble cast of British TV series The Book Group

The program is only available on DVD in the UK, in the Region 2 format. However, both seasons (or series as they're called across the pond) are currently available for viewing on Hulu if you live in the US.

Between the two seasons there's a total of 11 half-hour episodes, which makes for quick viewing if you get into the show, and then leaves you wanting more. For each of the two seasons, I ended up watching the majority in a single sitting - each half hour was like a potato chip, and I kept telling myself "Just one more before bed." The series is interesting, compelling, sometimes funny and sometimes gripping. The characters are anything but flat, and it's really just a fun show to watch.

Each episode is focused around a meeting of the very eclectic eponymous Book Group - As you would expect, the characters meet up to discuss a book. But the series explores the many facets of the characters' lives, which more often than not relate to the book they are currently reading or discussing. Titles include Don Quixote, The Alchemist, and even The Little Engine That Could.

I hesitate to call the series a comedy, because while parts are humorous, there are a lot of serious issues also explored. The Book Group tackles such issues as drug abuse, being in the closet, and infidelity - and also contains a refreshing portrayal of disability, with one of the group members, Kenny, using a wheelchair. Kenny is no mere 'token', but rather he displays the issues of disability and ability that he faces from day to day.

The Book Group is great fun: sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes knee-slapping, sometimes thought-provoking. It's short and sweet, which may leave you wanting more, but I found it pretty satisfying. I can't recommend it enough, especially when US viewers currently have the opportunity to watch it free of charge.