For two seasons, this has been an intriguing duo – two teens who have everything in common and somehow, nothing in common.
They are friends on “Ackley Bridge,” a series that – as its third season starts streaming Monday (Jan. 13) – is about to change profoundly.
Missy Booth and Nasreen Paracha (shown here) were born on the same day, in the same hospital. They’ve grown up together, in a town where jobs are scarce and expectations are low. We often see them on an abandoned couch, surveying a world they (and others) don’t really understand.
When the series started, two schools – one mostly Pakistani, the other not – were wedged together. Racial tensions flared, putting the girls on opposite sides.
They overcame that, but this third season starts with a bigger divide: Nasreen – whose mother, the school lunch lady – is forever encouraging her – has a shot at England’s best colleges; Missy, who is repeating a year and thoroughly disinterested, has no shot.
The season’s first episode follows the mixed feelings that can come when someone is moving on. Sublty acted by Amy-Leigh Hickman (as Nasreen) and Poppy Lee Friar – it is subtle and well-crafted … and then closes with a jolt.
That sets up the extraordinary second episode and beyond. There are flaws here – one person’s actions seem too out-of-character, even in an extreme situation – but these are still richly moving episodes.
“Ackley Bridge” is also about the school itself, including Mandy Carter, the earnest headmistress. When the school’s prime sponsor went bankrupt, she was forced to accept harsh changes. Now more changes are ahead … eventually.
The show has been renewed for a fourth season … but will be trimmed in half, to 30-minute episodes. It will have new characters and a new focus; catch the current version while you can.
– “Ackley Bridge,” www.acorn.tv
– The third season starts streaming Monday (Jan. 13); the first two are already there