Netflix's Bodkin delivers more cliches than it does any semblance of the Irishness it promised: Review

Will Forte

Will Forte leads the cast of Netflix's Bodkin

Bridget O’Sullivan

By Bridget O’Sullivan

Published: 14/05/2024

- 22:15

The Obama-backed Netflix series dropped on May 9

When you think "Netflix’s latest crime drama set in a shadowy, isolated West of Ireland", the Obamas are probably the last people who come to mind.

But it seems having a County Tipperary petrol station named after him (aptly titled Barack Obama Plaza) was just the start of the former President’s love affair with Ireland.

Incredibly, Barack and Michelle Obama serve as executive producers on Bodkin, Netflix’s seven-part series that wants in on the popularity of the crime-comedy genre.

The show opens in London, but the bulk of the action takes place in the fictional village of Bodkin, somewhere in West Cork.

Ireland is the zeitgeist of film and television in recent years; creator Jez Scharf seems eager to capitalise on this whilst trying to avoid the trap many fall into of representing Ireland as an idealised folkland of leprechauns and shamrocks.

Sadly, Scharf doesn’t achieve this as successfully as he may have thought he did.

Gilbert, played by Will Forte, is an ‘I’m Irish!’ American podcaster keen to delve into the secrets of rural Bodkin 25 years after three locals mysteriously vanished.

Siobhain Cullen, who plays Dove and is actually Irish, is there to put Gilbert and researcher Emmy, played by Robyn Cara, in their place.

When someone breaks out in traditional song mid-pint, she's quick to assure Gilbert "we’re not all singing and doing f***** Riverdance all the time".

More often than not, though, Dove herself is a caricature, banging on about her love of whiskey and hatred of the Catholic nuns who raised her - and that’s before she breaks out in semi-fluent Irish.

At such moments, the show’s lack of self-awareness grates.

The Young Offenders’ Chris Walley is brilliant as Sean, a local jack-of-all-trades who provides more comic relief than the main trio combined.

Pauline McLynn - of Father Ted fame - is let down by a script that doesn't utilise her comic abilities.

Instead, the show spends a lot of time chasing red-herrings as the truth of the disappearances slowly comes together.

Netflix Bodkin

Netflix Bodkin: Will Forte as Gilbert


Bodkin is a good watch for those who find crime and horror shows too gory but love the drama of these stories.

Performances from Forte and Cullen are also a highlight.

But for all the effort put into showing Bodkin as a place of mystery, you're left feeling the biggest mystery is whoever decided the script needed lines like: "You’re as Irish as Guinness."

Bodkin is available to stream on Netflix now.

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