By Deborah Ugiowa

I’m sure by now you’ve watched the critically applauded romantic drama series, one day, directed by Nicole Taylor. The 14-part series take place on the 15th of July, from 1988 to 2007, depicting the ever-evolving relationship between Emma Morely (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall). The idealistic and serious minded, Emma Morely and the more rich, overzealous, Dexter Mayhew meet on the night of their graduation from Edinburgh University. After a nice night together, they decided to be “just friends”. As each episode goes on, they tiptoe around the question of if their platonic relationship could be anything more.

Before we go on, it’s important to note that there will be major spoiler ahead as I analyse and give my recommendations about this series. You’ve been warned!

The most outstanding feature of this series are the characters, particularly the two protagonists Emma and Dexter. Throughout the show we see how their attachment styles and fears in life make it hard for them to form a long-lasting relationship.

Dexter has more of an avoidant attachment style. He’s enthusiastic and easy-going but finds it difficult to maintain a deep emotional connection with others. He often feels uncomfortable with intimacy (especially seen with his parents) and has a deep desire to be self-sustainable (seen with him constantly trying to make something of his presenter career). While Emma has a more secure attachment, she often gets anxious about the future of things and where things stand between herself and Dexter.

To one another, they represent consistency and familiarity. They give one another the space to be themselves. As the years go on, they both hold a special place above others in each other’s lives, yet they can never seem to communicate it. The dance between these two people with so much holding them back is done quite beautifully and truthfully.

In terms of casting, allowing a person of colour to play the female lead was formidable in the fight for more representation for women of colour. Not only that, but making Emma Morley a person of colour further drives the narrative of Dexter as a privileged, laisse faire, rich man.

Another visually appealing feature of this series is that you can see the passages of time throughout the episodes. Throughout the 80s we see Emma sporting those classic mom jeans and oversized plaid shirt (episodes 1 and 2). As we go into the 90s, we see Dexter wearing high waisted dress pants and an oversized suit jacket, which was a staple in its time (episode 7). The shift from using house phones to mobile phones was a smart move in showing the evolving times. As we move into the later episodes, we begin to see things become more familiar to our own time. Emma and Dexter begin to wear more casual clothing which underscores that fact that they’re both getting older.

Overall, the making of the series was brilliant. The plot was a realistic description of figuring life after college. Emma struggles to find a job that she truly loves. Dexter faces navigating life on his own, without his parent’s support.

Notably ,the emotive soundtrack pays homage to each episodes time. However, what stole the show for me was the acting. Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall perfectly articulate the push and pull dynamic of the relationship, but they also depicted loss in a raw and heartbreaking way. In the last episode we are invited to watch grief destroy Dexter after the sudden loss of Emma Mayhew. When he is finally alone after a long day of visitors on the anniversary of Emma’s death, he breaks down in a room full of Emma’s things. He talks to her; he can touch her, and as the audience we almost believe that she’s really there. “It won’t always be like this” she says. The scene then cuts to Dexter, alone, in that room full of memories.

The emptiness and defeat written on Dexter’s face is enough to open the floodgate of tears, but we soon hear the opening of ‘In Cold Light’ by Vanbur begin to play as a montage of moments between Emma and Dexter beings. Its gentle chords adding to the sombre scene. This would especially effect anyone that has experienced a great loss whether romantic or platonic.

Despite the many positives of this series I must be admitted that it is predictable . Although I never imagined that Emma would pass away, I could tell that Emma and Dexter would not get their happy ending. Not only does the show have an air of melancholy to it but Emma and Dexter finally got together in episode 12, if they were going to have a happy ending, why not end it there? However, I don’t think the series would have been as impactful if they got their happy ending. Often times the most valuable lessons are taught in hardships.

This heart shattering love story implores us to use what little time we have wisely. To tell the people we love that we love them, to love passionately and fully, to not settle for less, to communicate even if the conversations may be hard and most importantly, to stop letting fear hold us back. This show is worth the watch (and rewatch if you can handle it) for anyone in love, in grief or experiencing heartbreak. You wont regret it !


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