The British political family drama Next of Kin will get its American premiere on June 21 on Sundance Now, but the series already completed a full six-episode run on the U.K. network ITV earlier this year. The show centers around Mona Shirani (Archie Panjabi) and her family's struggle with the death of her brother and a teenage nephew who police suspect might have been involved in a terrorist plot in London. I won't give away any spoilers about how the first season unfolds, but will Next of Kin get a Season 2?
Neither ITV nor Sundance Now have released any official news about Season 2, either of confirmation or cancellation. It's been over four months since Next of Kin finished its UK run, so it's not exactly promising that ITV hasn't locked it down for another season yet. However, it's possible that they're simply waiting until the American ratings come in before making the final decision.
The official ratings are normally the best indicator of whether a show will be renewed or not, but unfortunately, the ratings for Next of Kin Season 1 aren't available. The reviews can also be a good indication of whether a network will hang on to a series or put it to bed, and going by what the critics had to say, Next of Kin fans miiiiight have reason to worry.
Most critics seem to agree that the premise of the show is an interesting one, and Panjabi's turn as Mona is well-executed. But as for everything else, they claim the show is trying to do too much at once and not really succeeding at any of it. For instance, in his review of the final episode, Ed Cumming of The Telegraph wrote, "Despite being initially well drawn, however, the characters didn't go anywhere. In place of personal development, events were piled on top of each other." Benji Wilson, also of The Telegraph, called the show a "cliched thriller" in his review of the premiere, and Lucy Mangan of The Guardian pointed out that the show raises a lot of questions about characters and plot, and does little to answer them.
But both Wilson and Mangan pointed out that the portrayal of the British-Muslim family at the heart of the series was honest and important. Mangan wrote in her review, "[I]t was, if nothing else, refreshing to see a Muslim family portrayed so naturally — a gaggle of individuals bound by love, frustrations and jokes and whose normality is as suddenly and thoroughly upended by tragedy as anyone’s could be."
Like the critics, some fans also griped that the show raised too many questions — silly ones that actually distracted from the important points of the narrative. Radio Times published an article after the Season 1 ITV premiere, rounding up fan tweets about the baffling plot holes in the first episode — specifically, how the family plans a party for Mona's brother that's frustratingly premature, failing to account for the 11-hour flight from Pakistan to London. It might sound like a superficial complaint, but these are the kinds of slips that take a viewer out of the narrative and make it much easier to change the channel.
While the critics and fans might lament the baffling plotholes and lack of clear development, lead actor Archie Panjabi thinks that shouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker. In an interview with Telegraph, Panjabi said, "While the show is fictional, I think shining a light on [the issue of radicalization] will encourage a discussion or debate. It's just bringing it to the forefront and saying, 'we're affected by it'."
Even if Next of Kin doesn't wind up returning for Season 2, hopefully it will clear the way for even more sensitive, thoughtful stories that raise the visibility of radicalization and the effect it has on everyday families.