Rachel Bellwoar reviews the first series of Striking Out…
Tara (Amy Huberman) isn’t prepared to stumble on her cheating fiancé but such are the breaks that launch Striking Out when she quits her hen party early. The hit Irish series made its US premiere Friday thanks to Acorn TV and has Tara realizing her career and personal life have mixed together too much. Immediate steps to separate the two set in motion with a career move to a coffee shop.
But first, the old job. Showing up at work the next morning, mascara smeared, shoeless, and rumpled, this is the woman falling apart after a break-up that is unable to pull it together. Shows like Ally McBeal misjudge how much women can compartmentalize but Striking Out provides Tara with a reason for acting quickly. Her fiancé’s name, Dunbar, is on the building. Tara wants to grab the paperwork she needs for the day before he clocks in.
A major law firm, Eric (Rory Keenan) is the son of Dunbar’s legacy and Tara is moving on from them both, but not before finishing what she’s started. A lot about Tara can be gauged from her not trying to flake out on cases for personal reasons. Dumping papers into tote bags and grabbing a suit and heels, Tara doesn’t notice there’s a young man (Emmet Byrne) in her office until he speaks up. She then recruits him in her attempt to sneak out of the building unnoticed.
Life is collapsing around Tara. Caught red-handed, but not too startled to recall the young man’s facing charges of fraud, under different circumstances Tara doesn’t accept Ray’s help carrying bags. That she does take a chance on him probably plays out too well (he’s supposed to be unemployable) but changes everything. One of the gratifications of this series is watching a random encounter manage such a huge impact on both of their futures, and without sexual tension.
It’s Ray who brings her to the coffee shop that will house her new practice, and it’s a coffee barista that replaces bar tender as TV’s go-to love interest. Tara is able to switch legal offices because she doesn’t have a contract with Dunbar’s. Surely there’s some red tape the show is skipping over, that a real lawyer would notice, but Striking Out makes an effort to be credible, with talk about leases and unfixed income. Tara makes mistakes that cost her money but that’s part of making a transition.
For a legal drama, Striking Out breathes. Court appearances move, and have to be on time, but the show doesn’t feel like a race that’s going to cause a stack of manila folders to spin out at any moment. When her first chair arrives late, and the solicitor she’s up against is the lawyer Eric slept with, Tara doesn’t get rattled or pull a legal miracle but calmly states their argument to a judge.
All four episodes involve infidelity but episode three at least notes that the chances of representing a bigamy case happen once in a career. It’s unclear what we’re supposed to think about Eric. Family members on both sides pester them to reconcile but, because we meet the couple after his dalliance, we don’t know what they were like together. That he works in the same field keeps him around but Tara’s not pining. Huberman provides Tara with a steady professionalism and it’s very easy to want her to flourish. If a second series wasn’t already confirmed, episode four leaves you wanting answers. Legal dramas can be susceptible to harsher criticism, because there are so many to choose from, but Striking Out should be penciled in.
Striking Out is streaming on Acorn TV and a DVD is scheduled for June 27th in the US.