This certainly makes for an interesting and different idea for a mainstream channel drama. One could argue that putting the idea in a child’s head may make them think they’re the wrong sex, but on the other hand, it could be exactly the right thing to do and that they’ve just been denied the information and the choices all these years until recently.
It’s not easy when you just want to be the way you want to be, but other kids at school can be so cruel with their attitudes and insults. At the same time, it doesn’t help that his parents – Vicky (Anna Friel) and Steven (Emmett J Scanlan) are on the brink of divorce. Naturally, Max wants his parents to get back together. I was also 11 at the time my parents got divorced, and it was bad enough just having to deal with that, as well as moving house and downsizing.
On Max’s supportive side is mum Vicky and Lily (Millie Gibson), the slightly older daughter who’s into posting Instagram pictures and making herself look allegedly perfect. Meanwhile, against Max is vicky’s mother, Barbara (Alison Steadman), who says Max has “funny ways”, while Dad Stephen can’t understand his son’s situation. In fact, when asked what he wants to do when he grows up, he tells his Dad he wants to be an astronaut – and there’s some brief flashback scenes when it comes to dealing with this, but nothing like those flashbacks in BBC1’s Jenna Coleman drama The Cry, which jumps back and forth like a flea on a hot plate.
There are elements in the first episode which are heartbreaking, but naturally, I will not give spoilers here; and unusually for a drama sometimes, these kids can actually act.
Butterfly gets off to a decent start, and it’s only a three-part drama, so if you’ve also enjoyed the opener, then you won’t have any issues catching up with the rest.
Episode 2 was an improvement, as a drama, and saw Max/Maxine worrying about how his deepening voice and how his penis “has become even more wrong”, but puts his hope in taking tablets to resolve things. Meanwhile, Stephen looked like he was starting to get a grip on the situation, but then showed his true colours later.
Episode 3: As seen at the end of episode 2, Vicky takes Max off to Boston for treatment, without the rest of the family knowing anything about it in advance, especially her mum and her business partner, as she’s basically taken all the money that was due to be spent on the business.
The pre-surgery hospital scenes were a bit odd, as we just saw doctors and nurses looking concerned, while various machines scanned Maxine. And when we caught a shot of the outside, it looked surprisingly like the area around the Manchester Royal Infimary… but then you know they wouldn’t actually travel to Boston for what turned out to be a few minutes of footage… but I’m being picky 😉
Naturally, I won’t give any spoilers about how things turn out, but as both Vicky and Stephen spoke separately to the authorities about Maxine, I didn’t feel any emotion from what was onscreen even though it was meant to be an emotional time for all of them.
I’ll add only one thing relating to Vicky’s business partner, which is not a spoiler, but if you want to know absolutely zero about the episode, then I’ll hide it behind a spoiler header below.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what is the music in the Butterfly trailer, below? It’s LCD Soundsystem – Oh Baby.
Episode 1 Score: 6/10
Episode 2 Score: 7.5/10
Episode 3 Score: 5/10
Director: Anthony Byrne
Producer: Louise Sutton
Writer: Tony Marchant
Music: Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Vicky Duffy: Anna Friel
Max/Maxine Duffy: Callum Booth-Ford
Stephen Duffy: Emmett J Scanlan
Peter Duffy: Sean McGinley
Lily Duffy: Millie Gibson
Paula: Lorraine Burroughs
Gemma: Amy Huberman
Barbara: Alison Steadman
Molly: Lola Ogunyemi
Bridget Johnson: Nimmy March
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.