‘Mood’ Review: Nicole Lecky’s BBC America Series Tackles Sex Work, Fame

It can be tempting to dismiss passionate singer Sasha (creator Nicôle Lecky) as she spirals out of control, leaving her family, ex-boyfriend and home in the dust. Tempestuous and desperate to become famous enough to achieve her dreams, Sasha is introduced to her audience in flashes of messy nights, hazy memories of past bad decisions, troubling camera angles and sporadic song breaks as her imagination runs wild, revealing glimpses into her psyche .

As based on Lecky’s 2019 monologue “Superhoe” (a fantastic title, unfortunately lost in translation) and directed by Stroma Cairns and Dawn Shadforth, “Mood” looks to tell the story of a woman determined to to burn his life to the ground. Instead, the BBC show (which premieres Nov. 6 on BBC America and AMC+) becomes something else — and then something else, and something else, and something else. One by one, Lecky’s incisive scripts peel back layers of Sasha’s thick skin to reveal the core of vulnerable truths at her center. (For American audiences: think “Rap Sh!t” plus “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” divided by “Fleabag.”)

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Over the course of six episodes, Sasha goes from a homeless musician to an uber-glam influencer, to an undercover sex worker, to someone who can finally accept a home that lets her be her most comfortable self. Along the way, she finds a twisted friendship-turned-business partnership with camera girl Carly (Lara Peake), secretly writes her own songs, and navigates the constant breakdown of casual racism. (Her white mother, played by Jessica Hynes, had Sasha as an overwhelmed teenager and is now an overwhelmed, middle-aged woman who doesn’t understand what Sasha goes through on a daily basis and has long since decided not to ask.) All of this makes for a whole a lot of character development to demand from six episodes, and it could have been interesting to see what “Mood” could have done given twice the time to tell Sasha’s story. Then again, being forced to do it with not just style but efficiency makes the breadth of its arc that much more impressive.

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Much of the credit for “Mood” goes to its soundtrack, which incorporates original songs spanning multiple genres, all led by Lecky (who, it must be said, has a great voice that instantly sells the urgency of Sasha finding her way in the music). That, plus the often dizzying direction and cinematography from Molly Manning Walker and Nick Morris, gives the show the constant feeling of living on the edge between victory and oblivion. The deeper Sasha falls into the hole of Carly’s alternate life (a creeping horror that both Lecky and Peake embody beautifully), the more disorienting “Mood” itself becomes. When the root cause of Sasha’s panic, shame and defiance is revealed, it comes as a shock, but not exactly a surprise. Even when Sasha struggles to find her voice, the series rarely does.

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“Mood” premieres on Sunday 6 November at 10pm EST on BBC America and AMC+.


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