Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

Anna Paquin, left, and Lydia Wilson star in Flack, a darkly comic series about the PR industry.

Courtesy of Amazon Prime

I deal with publicists and public-relations professionals all the time. All the bloody time. Mostly it’s a cordial professional relationship. In rare instances, it isn’t. Some people in PR are rude, soulless cranks whose hatred of the press borders on derangement. Remember Sarah Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany bloviating for Trump? Hey, it takes all kinds.

Flack (streaming on Amazon Prime Video from Friday) is about the PR professionals at an upmarket (read: expensive) firm in London. It is delightfully cynical, but sometimes bittersweet, funny and occasionally outright brilliant. Especially about the often loathsome clients these characters are paid to babysit, promote and protect.

Story continues below advertisement

Binge-watching guide: More than 30 series and specials to help you get through winter

Anna Paquin plays Robyn, an American who decamped to England after her mother’s suicide, as we come to learn. Ferociously efficient, clever and ruthless, Robyn’s the one who gets a soccer player out of trouble when he’s literally locked up in a sex club and needs rescuing. An appealingly complex figure, Robyn is the character you might hate for her crisp cynicism at first but begin to admire when she reacts with fierce moral force to some celebrity who’s just gone too far.

The series aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2019 to both acclaim and some disapproval of its withering take on media and publicity manipulation. It is acknowledged, however, that it is superbly written and has some of the most darkly comic dialogue ever.

Robyn is not only a promoter, she’s also the one who turns up when some sports star thinks the guy he’s been doing drugs with in a hotel room is dead. That’s in the opener, and then the episode hangs on the matter of a TV chef, loved by millions, who has been philandering for years. A woman is threatening to go to the press with photos. It is established that Robyn can handle this with aplomb but also has a cocaine habit and is not above having sex with a client to prove a point, even if that point is her own emptiness.

The back and forth between the PR agents is priceless. Robyn’s colleague Eve (Lydia Wilson) has a meanness that is both hilarious and breathtaking. “I only buy handbags made by free-range children,” she says. One of Eve’s clients is the real-life UFC star Conor McGregor, who wants to write a children’s book. Shes mean to interns and says to one, “Has anyone told you that you look skinny when you stand up for yourself?” Robyn declares to the same intern, “Just always assume we’re lying to people.”

There are two superb episodes. In one, Robyn and her boss Caroline (Sophie Okonedo, who is brilliantly haughty here) must manage a soccer star’s wedding. The episode unfolds with a dark, zinging humour that’s unnerving. The other little masterpiece of mordant humour takes place entirely on a plane flying to New York from London. Robyn is accompanying a client, a middle-aged American movie star named Calvin (played with menacing noxiousness by Bradley Whitford). She is trying to save him from a scandal mid-flight, and the tightly staged scenes are done with some genius. It also has a delicious denouement. There are six episodes available now and six more coming. Oh, goody; it’s that piquant and fresh.

Also airing this weekend

Sled Dogs: The Cold Truth About Man’s Best Friend is a must-see doc about the commercial dog-sled world.

Courtesy of documentary Channel

Sled Dogs: The Cold Truth About Man’s Best Friend (Saturday, Documentary Channel, 9 p.m.) has been on before but is a must-see if you’re not familiar. Filmmaker Fern Levitt tackles commercial sled-dog operations and the Iditarod race. It’s about what some dog mushers do. It’s about the image and the reality. And it’s a superb work, beautifully made and sharp as a poke in your eye. People are interviewed and say things that are plainly contradicted by their own actions and by others. Also, it’s a moving, poignant film about dogs.

Agatha Christie's England visits the places that inspired Christie's literary universe.

Courtesy of PBS

Agatha Christie’s England (Sunday, PBS 10 p.m.) is what it says. It retraces the author’s life to see the places that inspired her work. It suggests Christie drew on her surroundings and immortalized people she encountered. Well, some of them anyway.

Story continues below advertisement

The fourth season of Call My Agent is now on Netflix.

Netflix

Also note that the fourth and final season of Call My Agent is now on Netflix. This droll French hit revolves around a talent agency in Paris and the machinations involved in keeping movie and TV stars happy and working. It has some hilarious cameos by real French stars, including Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. It’s a lovely counterpoint to the witty asperity of Flack.

Join Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle and veteran writer Bill Brioux for a live webcast on Friday Feb 5th at 12 p.m. ET as they discuss the latest on the TV streaming battleground and what shows to add to your must-watch list. Globe and Mail subscribers can register at tgam.ca/experiences.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies