I know I am a little late to the party but I recently caught the Broadchurch bug and binge-watched this excellent British drama (starring Number Ten, aka the 10th Doctor Who, David Tennant) about a detective inspector who arrived in a small town called Broadchurch to investigate the murder of an eleven year-old boy. Murder mysteries are not new, nor are stories of small town misdeeds or the out-of-town investigator with a checkered past. However, beyond the crime at the centre of the show and what makes stories like these intriguing is what they reveal about the people affected by the crime.
In Broadchurch, we meet people who all seem innocent and pleasant enough. These are the ordinary people who could be our own neighbours. They have lived next door to each other for years. Their kids go to the same school and are best mates. They drink at the same pubs and sit next to each other in church. Small towns are even more conducive to gossip because everyone knows everyone’s business. But do they?
As the investigation continues, suspicion falls on everyone, and suddenly everybody looks guilty as they are revealed to be harbouring secrets: the father of the murdered boy was having an affair with the owner of the local bed and breakfast, while the sister is having under-age sex with her older boyfriend; the old man who ran the local newsagent had been convicted of statutory rape for having sex with a minor – a girl whom he later married as soon as she came of age; the woman who lived in a caravan near the site where the victim was found had come to town under a different name to look for the son taken away from her when she was accused of knowing her husband had been molesting their eldest son. In the end, the murderer is found – someone who nobody ever looked at with suspicions and his reason for the “accidental” murder seemed the least likely.
So, this raises the question: who are we all behind closed doors?
We all put on a facade when we walk out the door the same way one might put on make-up before they can face the world. In our workplace, we try to be professional and society dictates that we behave in a certain way – we cannot let our personal lives and any crises we may be facing affect our work. Even in our social circles, we may be expected to be happy and cheerful all the time.
It seems like almost every week we hear news of another celebrity’s tragic death/incarceration/hospitalisation. Drug use, alcohol abuse and depression are common reasons given. When we hear these news stories, we often wonder what could make people who we believe to have everything – money, career, good looks – to want to throw it all away? What do we know about anyone’s lives behind closed doors – what demons are they battling? What secrets are they keeping?
The pressures of our society often make for an unhappy world. We are all affected by it in different ways and to different degrees. We all handle them differently. We are not all celebrities so nobody ever hears of the problems we lock away behind closed doors. What can we do to open those doors for people around us? Every encounter you have with someone has the potential to change that person’s life. You can offer a kind word of encouragement to someone struggling for success, wish a perfect stranger a cheerful good morning or compliment someone on their clothes/hair (but be genuine!). If someone needs to have a rant at you, let them finish, then give them a hug because they probably need it.