Bodies (Netflix): A Hopeful Story

Bodies (Netflix): A Hopeful Story
Promotional pic for TV series Bodies showing faces of main characters in different period costumes

Bodies. A new Netflix series. If you’re looking for a distraction, or an infusion of hope, I recommend you watch. It’s only eight episodes long. And the story resolves beautifully.

Bodies: A light dose of time travel

How’s this for a story? Four London detectives work together to solve a case from 1889. 

Who are they? A Jew, a Muslim, a Christian and an atheist. 

What are the stakes? Rescuing the world from an authoritarian death cult. 

When do they succeed? It’s complicated. Because each detective serves in a different era. 1889. 1941. 2023. 2053.

Yes, Bodies has time travel. No, the science is not fully explained. But it doesn’t matter. Time travel is only a plot device to make a few important points. Intergenerational trauma is real. History can repeat itself—if we’re not careful.

Faith and identity are important themes

Faith and identity are part of the plot. In 1889’s Christian culture, powerful families network at church. There, some men prey on women. Conservative teachings overflow the church walls, and it’s not safe anywhere in the city to be a gay man.

In 1941, Jews endure constant suspicion and antisemitic slurs. They must look out for one another, because no one else does. 

In 2023, Muslims can’t avoid the white supremacist subculture.  But they can choose to focus on their own vision of a common humanity. 

In 2053, a secular family fractures over competing political ideologies. Still, they grasp the few thin threads that connect them.

Healing intergenerational trauma

But—the story argues—some of these ruptures can heal. Some begin with childhood trauma. The stress may lead to rage that explodes in violence. But love can help dissolve the rage. Maybe not quickly. Or in a linear way.  And definitely not without facing hard truths, and then working through them together.

Here’s more good news. You don’t have to be a “certain kind of person” to do this work. Just rise to the occasion when you are called. Each of the four detectives is so different: naive, cynical, idealistic, or clueless. It doesn’t matter—eventually each one comes to believe they can make a difference. And then acts with the tools at hand.


Bodies is created by Paul Tomalin. It is based on a graphic novel by Si Spencer and illustrated by Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay, Meghan Hetrick, and Phil Winslade. The series features many great acting performances. Here are just a few: Stephen Graham plays the time-travelling tyrant. Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Shira Haas, Amaka Okafor, and Kyle Soller play the detectives. And—my personal favorite—Gabriel Howell plays the troubled teen Elias.

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