Arts & Culture

For years The Ocelot had a character called Bane ‘Drive-by’ Bullet. He was written by me as a young hoodie living on the rough streets of Bassett Rivers where he would drink WKD at da bus stop and talk about his biatch (mum).

The original Agony Boy George, as if it is life imitating art, now speaks like Bane innit az he iz like livin’ on da mean streetz of Swindon.

But Top Boy has always been the real thing giving us an insight into the lives of gang members living in a North London estate called Summerhouse.

The two original series, which were only four episodes each, ran back in 2011 and 2013 but now streaming giant Netflix have picked it up giving the latest series a massive 13 episodes.

And it works. Top Boy always felt a bit like a British version of The Wire showing us the intricacies of London drug gangs and having a longer episode order really allows it to breathe.

You can also catch the original two seasons on Netflix too but they’ve been handily renamed Top Boy: Summerhouse just to confuse you.

Top Boy follows the lives of Dushane and Sully as they twist and turn on their way up the slippery slope of the North London drug trade.

It is a world that is eerily familiar (especially if you’ve got a son who inexplicably has started speaking like an urban grime artist despite living in middle class Swindon) but also very alien as its residents live in the shadow of gang violence where death or injury lurk around every corner sweeping up innocents in its wake.

But this is not a show that glorifies drug gangs. Far from it. It humanises the problems of these residents covering issues from racism, to immigration problems, to child abuse and exploitation. This is gritty stuff and it doesn’t pull any punches.

It is a nuanced drama that shows the realities of what faces our society in its most deprived areas.

You might be rooting for our anti-heroes Sully and Dushane but it doesn’t shy away from the fact that they are morally corrupt individuals who have no idea of the consequences of their actions. It is this nuance that sets Top Boy apart and really makes it work in the lengthier Netflix format. It iz bare good bruv!