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Top Boy review: Does it really capture the reality of inner-city life?

Thanks to the help of rapper Drake, the highly-acclaimed show Top Boy has been

restored by Netflix long after being dismissed by Channel 4 in 2013. Creator Ronan

Bennet returns and has a wider story to tell with the new chapter of the gritty east-

end drama. With award-worthy cinematic visuals, the long but worthwhile wait has

bought the best season to date with its bleak but necessary revival.

In addition to Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson) we meet

newcomers Modie (David ‘Dave’ Omoregie) and Shelly (Little Simz), both successful

musicians who helped present the raw and authentic story of life for many in the UK


Season 3 depicts a radically alternative teen narrative that is rarely documented in

the mainstream. It dives deeply into the harshness of growing up on London’s

council estates and how society can fail marginalised people forcing them into a life

of crime.

The show returns at a culturally appropriate time where knife crime and gang

violence is at its peak in London. It is full of intense crime scenes with dark edges,

plentiful cliff-hangers and sad comedic elements that make an interesting if not

intended reflection of the changes in London due to the effects of gentrification.

Top Boy doesn’t glamorise what’s happening. It’s just an unapologetically raw

representation of London today. Drug exchanges across the UK return with a

backdrop of asylum seekers being exploited as immigration officials crack down on


Gory scenes of seeping blood wounds as a result of gang crime remain shocking but

it’s newer issues like a mother facing deportation that hit the hardest. The latter

resulted in her son skipping school to help make extra money - illegally.

Yes, the show is about gangs and violence but it’s a bigger story trying to be told, it

really captures the nuances of a culture that’s rarely represented in British cinema,

the injustices people face and the odds that are stacked against them.

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