'Back To Life' sheds light on sensitive issue of how return of ex-convicts affect families with British humor through Miri’s fumbling parents
The caring father is happy the family is back together. The mother is worried about how Miri might be adjusting. Like most fathers, he can’t deal with discomfort and thus resorts to different measures to ease the tension, and none too successfully. The mother removes all sharp objects from the house
Daisy Haggard’s ‘Back To Life’ is a beautifully written story about how an ex-convict named Miri Matteson returns home after 18 years in prison. It deals with how she tries to adapt to a world she no longer understands, dealing with people who now despise her and reconnecting with her parents.
The last bit is a vital step into reentering a community from where one has been ostracised. But it is also difficult. And ‘Back to Life’ navigates this jungle with remarkable finesse.
It is, after all, not just Miri’s story, but also the story of her family. The caring father is happy the whole family is back together. But the mother is worried about how Miri might be adjusting. And together, both of them fumble with their roles as parents.
The father, like most fathers, can’t deal with discomfort and thus resorts to different measures to ease the tension, and none too successfully. The mother has her own set of reactions, like removing all sharp objects from the house.
It’s funny to watch it on screen but it also begs you to think: It is a situation most people are not equipped to deal with. No one prepares for their child to spend almost two decades in prison and then return. Prisoners often come home to find their family members no longer trusting them.
There is more. Studies have shown that once ex-offenders return home, they are dependent on family members and must overcome years of limited contact, potential resentment and a change in the household dynamic. However, according to the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, while before release, 82% of ex-offenders thought it would be easy to renew family relationships; after returning home, over half reported it was more difficult than expected.
And it is this difficulty Daisy Haggard has brought to life in her show; with a dash of dry British humor, of course. Be it her mother’s secrets or her father’s attempts to heal, Miri, ultimately is all alone, even under the comfort of her parents’ roof.
One can hope things would get better for the family. But till then, Miri's struggles -- and her family's struggles -- remain a delight to watch.
'Back To Life' premieres in the U.S. on Showtime November 10.