Love/Hate: A breath of fresh, Irish air

Ireland’s favourite gangsters returned for the first episode of their final season on Sunday, October 4th. Apart from introducing new characters, new plotlines and setting us all up for what looks like a brilliant climax, Love/Hate has acquired a sleek, slow-moving focus, similar to US shows like The Wire or House of Cards.

The realistic, gritty view of Dublin`s drug trade and its drug dealers the show gives its viewers falls in line with how some of the most successful shows on television are angled today. The characters we route for could die at any moment, Aidan Gillen the show`s highest profile actor at the time it began, was dispatched in one of the finale twists in season two. It was a risk at the time to kill off Gillen, the show was hugely popular, but it had yet to reach the massive viewing figures it commands now.

The killing off of fan favourite Darren (Robert Sheehan) was another huge risk to the show’s popularity, but once more the gamble paid off with massive numbers turning into the opening of season four to see if his fate was truly sealed.

In contrast to programmes like Breaking Bad, there have been many focal characters throughout Love/Hate’s five season run. It seems obvious that the creators re-imagined the show after a few years, making it more expansive and polished.

Love/Hate may be a risky job for an actor on the breadline but this translates into a show that holds respect for its fans intelligence. The show’s creators have placed a lot of faith in its fans to continue to have faith in the shows direction even if it means a revolving cast.

The show’s take on how the drug trade operates is refreshingly honest. Scenes in the show have echoed ones seen in newspapers. The accidental suicide of Hughie in season one mirrored an incident which occurred in Limerick in 2009. The conflict between the IRA and the gang seen in season three depicted much a fictionalised version of the tensions between real criminal gangs and the IRA in Dublin at the time it aired.

The show has never shied away from tackling recent controversies in its own unique way. Even the shows current direction which looks to focus on criminals in Spain and how they continue to operate from overseas bares resemblance to the actions of the Kinahan gang and how they operate from the Costa del Sol.

Music remains an integral part of the show, setting the mood and breaking up over-long passages of dialogue. Recognisable classics by Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley feature in episode one, while The Velvet Underground’s “Sticking with You” is given an insidious twist as the high-pitched vocals of Maureen Tucker provide an eerie ending to the first episode.

Writer Stuart Carolan recently revealed he was already working on plotlines for season six, given its majority audience share and huge ratings it would seem Love/Hate may be set to stay on our screens for a little while longer.

Ross Dooner and Bryan Grogan

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