Back to Life

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Back to Life TV Poster Image
Poignant British dramedy about post-prison life is mature.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Trying to redeem oneself, and making the most of second chances, isn’t easy. Family, love, community, friendship, hope, and perseverence are also themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Miri is far from perfect, but is trying to rebuild her life honestly. Her parents love her unconditionally. Some people in the community are forgiving; others are not. 


Miri’s crime central to the story, but not described or fully addressed. People shout insults, hurl bricks, vandalize her parents' home, and do other things to harm her. 


Adultery is a theme. There’s some strong innuendo and simulated sexual acts. 


There's an endless use of curse words, ranging from "bitch" to "f--k." Rude gestures visible. 


A few references to local stores, like Woolworths. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to codeine and other drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Back To Life is a mature British dramatic comedy about a woman trying to restart her adult life after completing a long prison sentence. The violent crime she commits isn't described, but violent acts are committed against her and her family, from hurled insults to hurled bricks. Cursing is frequent, and there’s some strong sexual innuendo, instances of adultery, and on occasion, a simulated sex act. All this being said, the show contains strong themes about friendship, unconditional love, forgiveness, hope, perseverance, and redemption. 

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What's the story?

From the producers of Fleabag comes BACK TO LIFE, a British dramatic comedy series about a woman who is fresh out of prison and trying to start her adult life. After being locked up for 18 years for a violent crime, Miri Matteson (Daisy Haggard) returns to the small coastal town she grew up in. Going back to live with her well-intentioned, but anxious, aging parents (played by Geraldine James and Richard Durden) isn’t easy, especially when they are keeping secrets of their own. Meanwhile, finding a job and resettling into daily life is next to impossible, thanks to the unwelcoming community. Luckily, some folks like Nathan (Liam Williams) believe in giving second chances, while others, like Billy (Adeel Akhtar) find it within themselves to be kind. Meanwhile, a stranger (Jamie Michie) is hanging around, and seems to making a hobby of investigating the details of the crime she served time for on his own. 

Is it any good?

Written by Daisy Haggard, the dark comedy offers a compelling narrative that combines a sense of optimism with an every-lurking sense of hopelessness. The result is a well-balanced series that uses dry humor to guide our understanding of Miri Matteson’s experiences, and helps make her a likable character that you want to root for. Granted, not knowing what crime she actually committed makes her past a little bit more forgivable. But the rejection she experiences also reminds us of how cruel the world can be to people who have been punished for their crimes, and are trying to redeem themselves by becoming productive members of their communities. Back To Life isn’t a simple story, but it's smart, entertaining, and worth the watch. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kinds of challenges people face after serving time in prison for long periods of time. How do they readjust to society? Family?

  • Should communities be willing to accept and help people who have served time for violent crimes? How does one balance wanting to help people rehabilitate with the fear that they may commit violent crimes again?

  • How are audiences supposed to feel about Miri? What are the ways that Back To Life points to the seriousness of Miri’s situation while keeping the overall show lighthearted? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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