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Thursday, June 30, 2022

‘Clique’: the dark side of your summer internship

Alice Robinson finds BBC3's new drama a compelling stylised watch

In recent weeks, you may have noticed the provocative social media marketing campaign for BBC3’s Clique. Under the banner of ‘Solasta Finance’, a series of impossibly attractive women told girls, “For equal opportunities, act like a man”. However, the show itself ends up far less gender-focused that these ads suggested.

Continuing the BBC’s series of female-led psychological dramas (such as Apple Tree Yard and The Replacement), Clique shows us best friends, Holly and Georgia, as they enter the dark and mysterious world of internships at Solasta. Like the interns themselves, everything at first appears glossy and glamorous; but naturally there’s a murky underworld to it all which suspicious Holly is determined to discover.

It’s great to see something named Clique which doesn’t focus entirely on women turning on each other à la Mean Girls, and also to see young women at home in a Wolf of Wall Street kind of world. This is an enjoyable and gripping drama, but one that all too often relies on big show-downs and aesthetics to bulk out its six episodes.

Holly is a curious protagonist, played by Synnove Karlsen as either blankly devoid of passion, or a ball of rage with no control at all over her own emotions. Every single episode, she drunkenly flies off the handle at a big company party; she vomits, she faints, she shouts, she cries—and yet they continue to invite her back. Her reactions seem even more extreme because of the apparent lack of depth to her relationship with Georgia. Although apparently best friends throughout childhood, we are given little insight into this relationship before Georgia is off, deserting Holly for the Solasta clique. Although more backstory is appearing week by week, it’s initially hard to care about these ‘best friends’ since they seem so willing to desert, snub, and fight each other.

That being said, despite these flaws, Clique is strangely compelling. The aesthetics, all a kind of dirty, dim, glitz, are attractive, and the story has just enough plot twists to keep one interested. It’s no Line of Duty, but it’s still an absorbing watch—and great for anyone feeling bad about not having a finance internship lined up this summer.

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