Grayson Perry is back on our screens, and we can confirm he still hasn’t bothered to brush his hair for the occasion. However, he has donned his loud and lairy leathers and plonked his bum on his psychedelic chopper, in a mission to uncover whether the American dream is still alive and well.
The apocalyptic news of 2020 might have already answered that for him…and this is the documentary’s downside. Filmed in the summer of 2019, pre-pandemic and before the protests which came after the death of George Floyd, Perry’s discussions on race and culture in America aren’t up-to-date. Such is the nature of TV production – even the otherworldly Perry couldn’t have predicted what this year would bring. He did, however, make the most of it with his Lockdown Art Club. The success of this new series is largely tied to Perry’s likeability: with him we haven’t got any of the feigned naivety you get with Louis Theroux, instead we have a presenter who is as curious and wiling to learn as his viewers. And despite arguably being outdated, the film accurately demonstrates that tensions had been building long before it reached the news.
Rebecca Nicholson in The Guardian praises the artist-cum-presenter for his ability to sit back and listen, saying that “perhaps counterintuitively, this makes for better television.” Perry’s genuine eagerness to learn is also praised in The Telegraph, with Anita Singh saying that he “was clearly fascinated by all these conversations,” and commenting “for all his confidence in front of the camera, there remains something interestingly offbeat about Perry’s style.” The fact he’s a quirky guy is hardly news. The Times’ Ben Dowell thinks this unconventional persona makes for a better interviewer, saying: “being a liberal pin-up meant that he could ask tough questions about racial grievances, guilt and fury without being cancelled.”
Must TV aren’t a fan of cancel culture, but still, you best watch this quick before the wind changes.
First shown September 2020.