"It's our fault". The Years and Years monologue that sums up the state of the world.

British drama Years and Years is the television series that dares to confront us with our future.

Opening in 2019, and following a family not unlike yours or mine, Years and Years shows us not just what a dystopian future looks like, but how it is forged. As Sophie Gilbert put it for The Atlantic, “This is the way dystopia happens… Not with a bang, but with a series of exhausted shrugs.”

There’s Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson), a charismatic, straight-talking and highly controversial politician who dares to say she “doesn’t give a f*ck” about the Israel-Palestine conflict on an evening talk show.

Watch the full trailer for Years and Years. Post continues below. 

Video by SBS On Demand

Her rise takes place in the periphery of the Lyoneses lives – a grandmother Muriel Deacon and her four adult grandchildren, Stephen, Daniel, Edith and Rosie – who are distracted by their children, relationships and careers. Sometimes they see Vivienne Rook on television or the front page of the paper, but mostly their day-to-day goings-on get in the way.

But as industries collapse, some lose their jobs. There are no more butterflies or bananas. Banks close and strict immigration laws tear apart relationships, giving way to deadly concentration camps.

Without giving away too much, the series of events that unfold are terrifying, not least because they are so utterly conceivable. It’s all too close.

In the final episode, the matriarch of the family Muriel Deacon (Anne Reid) delivers a three-minute monologue that eloquently sums up the state of the world and precisely whose fault it is.

It’s a moment of television that stays with viewers long after the final credits roll, reminding us that our greatest downfall can be summarised in just one word: complicity.

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As her family sit around the dining table, and Muriel discovers it’s been 10,000 days since 1999, she delivers the following monologue:

Muriel Deacon: … But it still doesn’t alter the fact that it’s all your fault.


All of you. The banks. The government. The recession. America. Mrs Rourke (Emma Thompson). Every little thing that’s gone wrong, it’s your fault.


Stephen Lyons (Rory Kinnear): How am I responsible for the whole entire world?

Muriel Deacon: Because we are. Every single one of us. We can sit here all day blaming other people. We blame the economy. We blame Europe. The opposition. The weather. And then we blame these vast sweeping tides of history, you know, like we’re so out of control and we’re so helpless and small.

But it’s still our fault. 

You know why? It’s the one pound t-shirt.

The t-shirt that costs one pound. We can’t resist it. Every single one of us. We see a t-shirt that costs one pound and we think “Oh, that’s a bargain, I love that” and we buy it… nice little t-shirt for the winter to go underneath that’ll do. And the shopkeeper gets five miserable pence for that t-shirt. And some little peasant in a field gets paid nought point nought one pence. And we think that’s fine. All of us. And we hand over our one quid. And we buy into that system for life. 

I saw it all going wrong when it began. In the supermarkets. They replaced all the women on the till with those automated checkouts…

Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley): No. That’s not our fault. I hate those things. I always have.

Edith Lyons (Jessica Hynes): I can’t stand them.

Muriel Deacon: Yes but you didn’t do anything did you? Twenty years ago when they first popped up did you walk out? Did you write letters of complaint? Did you shop elsewhere? No. You huffed and you puffed and you put up with it. And now all those women are gone. And we let it happen. 

And I think those checkouts, we want them. Because it means we can scroll through pick up our shopping and we don’t have to look that woman in the eye. The woman who’s paid less than us. She’s gone. Got rid of her. Sacked. 

Well done.

So yes, it’s our fault. 

This is the world we built. 


Written by Russell T. Davies, Muriel’s monologue asks each of us, as individuals, what we are willing to accept – and what we actually plan to do about it.

Years and Years manages to capture so perfectly what The Washington Post refer to as the personalisation of a”global sense of doom.”

Both publicly and privately, we are grappling with overwhelming questions about consumerism, waste, immigration, extremism, technology and relationships. Are we paving the way for a future none of us want?

Years and Years is, unquestionably, one of the stand out series of the past 12 months. It can be read as an awfully ominous warning. One that leaves the viewer with a choice.

If this is what the future looks like, what are you going to do to stop it?

You can watch Years and Years Season One on SBS On Demand. 

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