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'Cold Feet' Reminds Us That Young People Don't Own the Market on Anxiety and Turmoil
September 8, 2017  | By David Hinckley

The revived British series Cold Feet hums along on the admirable premise that soapy, angst-driven life crises are not only for the young.

Cold Feet, whose original five seasons gradually became a hit on British TV 15 years ago, fired up again last year and its second new season – seventh overall – becomes available in the States Saturday on the streaming service BritBox.

It centers on a half-dozen friends in their forties and fifties who find they must reset significant parts of their lives, including romances, relationships with the kids, jobs and so on.

In that sense, it’s an older-demo version of the dozens of shows about twentysomethings trying to figure things out, except there’s a difference.

Twentysomethings expect they have to figure things out. That’s what youth is for. People in their forties and fifties rely on the unspoken assurance that if they already figured things out years earlier, they should be able to rely on those things remaining stable and never have to figure them out again.


Cold Feet, whose tone flows from poignant sadness to slapstick comedy, makes the correct observation that things very often don’t work as we blithely assumed they should.  

Before we know it, life can become a series of rolling adjustments, and for all its daytime-drama elements, Cold Feet works because it captures the ragged nature of that uncharted process.

The core characters include Adam Williams (James Nesbitt, top), who has been married twice and is now pursuing a relationship with Tina Reynolds (Leanne Best).

She doesn’t want to rush into anything. Or wait, maybe she does. That whole issue is further complicated because Adam has a teenage son, Matthew (Ceallach Spellman) from Adam’s marriage to Rachel, who died several series ago.

Matthew is a reasonable kid. His presence still makes the equation more complex.

So does the fact that Adam may have just landed a new job with a company entirely populated by millennials who look on him as the scientists looked at the dinosaur eggs in Jurassic Park.

That’s still around? OMG.

David Marsden (Robert Bathurst, left) used to be married to Karen (Hermione Norris). He also used to have a good job, a couple of bad decisions ago. Now he’s scamming widows with dodgy insurance policies.

Karen, meanwhile, has decided to start her own publishing house after years of working for others. Being on the boss side of the table, she soon learns, isn’t all power and glory.

Pete and Jenny Gifford (John Thomson, top, and Fay Ripley) divorced and remarried. He’s making a minimal living as a driver, while her career is going well enough that she’s been offered a promotion and raise. She isn’t sure whether to take it because she isn’t sure she wants to give up that much of her life.

Jenny is also depressed because her longtime best friend seems to have found a new best friend in Tina.

There’s a little more relationship turnover in Cold Feet than there might be for your average group of friends in real life. Happily, however, the writers here don’t seem to feel they must constantly escalate the action.

We don’t get rapes and murders and debts to the Mob. We get the things that happen to actual people, decent people who try to follow the rules and sometimes do stupid things they think they can get away with.

Cold Feet suggests we don’t get away with nearly as much as we would like to think we could. It also suggests that when we do follow the rules, sometimes we get pushed out of the car and left by the side of the road anyhow, to dust ourselves off and start again.

We don’t like everyone on the show all the time. We understand and sympathize with how they got where they are.

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