Sue Perkins: Along the US-Mexico Border

Rating 8.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 2 x 60 mins

Many miles (and years) from her days in the Bake Off tent, Sue Perkins has journeyed to the political epicentre of Trump’s presidency, the US-Mexico border.

The two-part series sees her make her way from Tijuana on the Pacific Ocean, 2000 miles east, to the Mexican Gulf. Sue starts off by getting hammered on Tequila with the locals – trying one called ‘sexy cream’, which looks exactly as you imagine – before meeting families on either side of the border: those being detained and separated from their children, and the middle-class Americans who moved south of the wall to pass their retirement smoking joints and day drinking. It has a good crack at being a balanced portrayal, but it’s fairly obvious where Perkins’ sympathies lie. However, the US’ handling of immigration and the brutal realities of the country’s immigration policies aren’t the focus of the documentary, and therefore the show sits much more in the realm of travel film, rather than gritty exposé. Regardless, Perkins is a cracking host who gently probes the contributors with perfect warmness, despite their sometimes-contrasting beliefs.

For Lucy Mangan of The Guardian, the portrayal of the controversial side of the border wasn’t quite handled right. She says: “where Perkins tries to convey and comment on the scale of suffering and the complexity of the factors behind it…work less well than the lighter sections,” and agrees that “It remains a travelogue rather than a documentary.” The Time’s Carol Midgley comments, “Arguably the most pertinent point made was that there is a wave of economic migrants flooding the other way, but no one complains about that.” This melange of travel and gentle criticism, makes what The Telegraph’s Chris Bennion calls “a tasting menu of human interest and travel documentary-lite occurrences.”

To not enjoy a show with Sue Perkins in it is almost anti-British, so naturally, this is a MustWatch.

First shown September 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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