The older, sadder and more worried about the state of humanity I get, the more open I become to the safest type of tv. I may be mesmerised by The Handmaid’s Tale and counting the days till the return of Game of Thrones (7 to go!) but, at the other end of the spectrum, I also have a mortifying weakness for Movies 24/Hallmark romances (Summer Villa, you guys. Just try it), an odd but irresistible love for The Good Witch and, as I’ve learned over the past few days, a mild but genuine interest in Netflix’s new kids tv show Free Rein.
A twee, well-meaning, super-cliched but perfectly pleasant tween drama about an American teenage girl who spends an idyllic summer in the English countryside discovering a natural talent for riding, making new friends at the stables, and bonding with a horse no one but her can control – this is the kind of thing I was too cool for when I was 12, but now I’m all: “Oh, another 25 minute-episode of low-stakes shenanigans about family secrets, mean girl riders, and outwitting horse thieves? Don’t mind if I do!” Which is not to say I’d be signing up for a second season – it’s very much the modern version of those pony stories that horse-minded little girls used to read decades ago, and I am actually a full-blown adult who has never had any interest in horses at all – but I just finished episode five of ten and, dammit, I want to know who the horse thieves are, and why Zoe’s mum won’t let her ride, and whether Zoe herself will follow tv tradition and pick angry, moody Pin over smiley, handsome Marcus. Adult or not, I guess some things never change.