You can’t go wrong with sunshine, sand, and family dysfunction—and PBS Masterpiece's The Durrells in Corfu has them in abundance. The hit show, which is currently in its second season, is an adaptation of the Corfu Trilogy by British author, zookeeper, naturalist, and conservationist Gerald Durrell.
Beginning with My Family and Other Animals, the quintessentially British trilogy is “funny and exhilaratingly rude” (The Guardian) as it follows the Durrell children and their put-upon widowed mother when they uproot themselves from England and move to Corfu, Greece.
Though lesser-known among Americans, My Family and Other Animals and its sequels are of a coming-of-age story for the British pre-Potter generation. Told from the point of view of 10-year old Gerry, the Durrells' story has enchanted both adults and children with its vivid descriptions of odd animal behavior...Especially those of the human variety, whom Gerry so fortunately calls his siblings: Lawrence, Leslie, and Margo.
The show strays a bit from this narrative, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a hit. Loosely based on My Family and its two sequels, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives and The Garden of Gods, the show focuses on the recently widowed Louisa Durrell, who leads her travelling circus of a family on a move Corfu after her husband’s death leaves them penniless.
Her untamable brood contains Larry, (later, to be known as the literary giant, Lawrence Durrell), the eldest son who is working hard—or hardly working—on his big break as a writer. Leslie is the gun-obsessed mama’s boy and Margo is the boy-crazy daughter. Gerry, meanwhile, is the precocious youngster with a preference for animal friends to human. He creates not shortage of chaos when he begins to fill the walls of their crumbling villa with a collection of exotic, four legged creatures.
Though the series, like the books, also focuses on the birth of Gerry’s lifelong love of nature, it give more to the Durrell's family relationships. Secondary characters like the formidable Aunt Hermione and Louisa's Swedish love interest, both seen in Other Animals, have larger roles. But both the book and the adaptation capture the magic of starting over with four misbehaving children and the ragtag menagerie of animals that Gerry adopts throughout the series.
You can catch the second season of The Durrell's in Corfu on October 15. But for the complete story, pick up Gerald Durrell’s beloved memoirs.
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Featured still from "The Durrells in Corfu" (2017), via PBS