Des (TV Series) Review – Not a Celebration of Serial Killer

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Cinema is obsessed with Serial Killers, and following this craze, we sometimes tend to glorify the sinners. The example is sensed in lots of famous TV Series coming out on the famous platforms. (won’t name any, because the readers already know of them). Des (TV Series), a three-part mini drama series based on real events, stands out of the queue, because it doesn’t laud the serial killer portrayed in it, but warns you against him.

Des (TV Series) directed by Lewis Arnold, centers around the famous serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Without augmenting his psychic deeds, the story foregrounds the loss of human lives by creating empathy for the victims. It doesn’t make Dennis a superhero, but let audience hate him, as much as a serial killer should be hated.


The Story

Des (TV Series) narrates the story of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, and starts with his arrest after the discovery of human remains causing the blockage of a drain near his home.

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The story, without wasting a moment, takes Dennis to the station where he is questioned about his horrendous deeds, something which he takes pride in. A case is regulated around the killings, as the police officers investigate the number of people killed by Dennis, and the intention of his deeds. Though the number and intention keeps fluctuating throughout, Dennis never tries to deny the act, at least initially. The most he is bothered about is that the press should frame him as the hero, but when the press fails to do so, he hires a biographer to write an influential novel glorifying his deeds.


Obsession with Serial Killers – This isn’t a Celebration. This is a Warning

Often on screen, the focus is made on the serial killers, to portray them as some kind of unsung hero. A rock-star who killed the beings, but Des does none of that, and an applause for that commendable job. On the contrary, it revolves around the sufferings of the lost lives and their families and the insensitivity of the law enforcers not to plunge further in cases like these, as it would reflect their own negligence and ignorance.The story, through its state of affairs and realistic characters, dive deep into the ironies of human nature. Ironies being, when a psychopath is discovered, we all want to write about them to get famous, and in those writings, we tend to glorify them, and because if we won’t do it, why would anyone read it? Thus, the content written on them is often speculative and entertaining. Des tries to break all those notions and portray Dennis Nilsen as the person you should hate.

Dennis Nilsen, played by David Tennant, has given an excellent performance, as a self obsessed serial killer, who kills for company. (the same is the name of the book, on which the series is based). However, Dennis’ obsession is a satirical take on the audience and humans around, who are obsessed with serial killers so much that their deeds become gossip rather than warnings. To make his deeds eternal, and his figure memorable, Dennis gets a biographer Peter Jay, who symbolizes all those, who fascinate these slayers, but when he finally realizes what a dark den, Dennis’ mind is, he tells Dennis that he is going to write his biography, his way, and not to make him a hero. This is what Des is trying to tell the audience and for the audience, this is the most memorable message, explored on a series based on a serial killer.

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Peter Jay tells Dennis in the end that he is going to use his own adjectives to define him, and not what Dennis is feeding him. He concludes the conversation saying, “This isn’t a celebration. This is a Warning.”


Des (TV Series) is a gripping, tight drama that rarely loses its track. It grabs your attention immediately and binds it till the end. Each episode of 45 minutes approximately, is an addictive watch and by the end of it leaves you with something to think about. David Tennant is a treat to watch as a performer, who doesn’t miss a tune in his acting. He will make you hate him, as much as a murderer should be hated. It is one of the best series of the year, 2020 and is a must-watch.


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Des (TV Series) is a three-part mini-series directed by Lewis Arnold. Des is streaming on ITV.

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Shikhar Agrawalhttps://dmtalkies.com
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 6 years, majorly writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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