Why, and how, to watch Top of the Lake season one
Top of the Lake season two airs on BBC Two on Thursday. Take the time to watch season one of the chilling crime series while you can
Top of the Lake: China Girl aired for a privileged few at Cannes in May, much to the delight of the lucky critics. It was one of the highlights of the film festival. With is 27 July arrival on BBC Two, the show promises to be one of the most impressive series of the year – as well as a feather in the cap for both Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss.
Our reviewer watched the second series at Cannes, without ever having seen the original, and fell in love with it. So, come 27 July, there's nothing to stop you sitting down with a cup of tea and enjoy the series. But, if you really want to get the most out of it, now is the time to catch up with series one. Top of the Lake season one is available on UK Netflix or BBC iPlayer (episode one of season one has already come off iPlayer, so you'll have to hurry).
Expect a chilling crime drama, heavily inspired by Scandi Noir and yet not dissimilar to Broadchurch in its malicious undertones and small-town setting. Co-written by Campion, Top of the Lake also has a strong feminist drive, following the story of a woman-only commune at war with the 'alpha' men that run the town.
Season two takes us away from New Zealand (with its cold blue lakes into which young girls can silently sink). Detective Robin Griffin returns to bustling Sydney, a metropolis with a sex-trafficking problem where a ‘China girl’ has been packed into a suitcase and thrown off a cliff.
Here, in the big city, there's a smooth surface of respectability which must be shattered before the squalid life underneath can be revealed. There's also a personal dimension to Griffin's return; she reconnects with the child she gave away at birth (Griffin became pregnant after being gang-raped as a teenager), and with the fierce, magnetic woman who adopted her (Nicole Kidman).
Sydney is entirely unlike the haunting small-town setting where Griffin's last major case was set, but your appreciation of the second series will be improved by a visit to the chilling world of the first.
Top of the Lake season one is available on BBC iPlayer now, or Netflix UK. Read our review of season two here.
Season two of Top of the Lake arrives on TV Thursdays at 9pm. The whole box-set is released on iPlayer at once.