Every Peaky Blinders Season, Ranked The Talks Today

There is a desirability for the relatively unknown in music. The lesser renowned a band or artist is, the more credibility they seem to garner, especially from those with a self-proclaimed ardor for identifying up-and-coming talent who like to brag that their taste is more discerning than everyone else’s. These are the music snobs, those who like to frequently remind us that they “prefer their old stuff” when referring to an artist who may have shot to stardom. The same applies to TV series; so-called “die-hard” fans harp on about the good old days of their respective show as if they’re recounting stories from the Second World War.

There is, however, something known as the ‘sophomore slump,’ and it transcends the music industry. Certain TV shows lose their way after a phenomenal first season (looking at you, True Detective), and either take a while to bounce back or never return to their early glory. From Fargo and Ozark, to Game of Thrones and Arrested Development, it seems the early years are always seen in a more glowing light.

Is it the same state of affairs for Peaky Blinders? The hit BBC show which found increasing acclaim on Netflix has garnered enough love over the years to warrant an upcoming Peaky Blinders film, but is this yet another case of diminishing returns? Let’s take a look at every season, ranked, and find out.


6 Season 5

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Having fallen victim to the Wall Street crash, Tommy’s attentions turn to politics and the recouping of the loss of his small fortune. The Peakys have danced with many a devil up to this point, yet none as conniving or as cold-blooded as Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), the leader of the British Union of Fascists. His unscrupulous demeanor is slipperier than Tom’s Jerry, and darker than all of Shelby’s enemies combined.

Related: Peaky Blinders Cast: Character Guide and Descriptions

Yet, aside from the season’s political themes and motivations, it’s by far the biggest departure from the previous 24 episodes, which were characterized by blood-spurting action, sartorial elegance, and a liberality around criminality. Steven Knight’s usually immaculate writing tries a little too hard, with the plot becoming increasingly unbelievable.

5 Season 6

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders
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It was well-documented prior to airing that season six would be the last of Peaky Blinders in a six-episode format, with the promise of at least one feature film to conclude the affairs of Tommy Shelby. While season six is really just a continuation of season five, Tommy’s battle with existentialism, a variety of tragic news, and family feuds make it a far more evocative watch. While Polly’s (Helen McCrory) absence leaves a gaping hole as the former matriarch, season six’s revelations are conducive to a more gratifying watch.

4 Season 3

Peaky Blinders character Alfie Solomons
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A season that has a Shakespearean tragedy feel to it starts with marriage, love, and white doves, before inevitably descending into chaos, leaving Tommy holding a gun to his head. With the shocking murder of Grace, Tommy’s brutal callousness comes to the fore, as he attempts to achieve retribution. With the addition of the devilish Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine) as the primary antagonist, season three depicts Tommy in a more vulnerable and relatable light, going from the untouchable to the scarred.

3 Season 2

Peaky Blinders gang walking in BBC and Netflix show
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Following the frenetic end to a staggering opening season, where the Shelby clan found themselves fighting on all fronts, season two sees Tommy set his sights on exponential growth in the South, as the bright lights and economic boom of the capital become the Peaky Blinders’ next objective.

The introduction of the incalculable crime boss Alfie Solomons (perfectly played by Tom Hardy), as well as the belligerent Darby Sabini, pose new threats to the Birmingham gang, but also symbolize new portals to greater opportunity. This is a season that not only comprises much of what made season one a stellar success, but also adds the perilous edge of Tom Hardy’s Alfie, creating a thoroughly compelling spectacle.

2 Season 4

Peaky Blinders season 4 with Adrien Brody
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These six episodes set the cat among the pigeons and the revenge-seeking Italians among the Shelby family. As season three saw the Shelby’s expansion into foreign territories, specifically dealings with the Russians, many believed this was a step too far, too soon, and thus asked too much of us as far as suspension of disbelief was concerned. Season four stripped the grand façade of the preceding season back, and with the procurement of an Academy Award-winner in Adrien Brody, the idea to bring a touch of international stardust to the understated confines of their Birmingham suburb was a masterstroke.

Related: The Best British Television of the 2010s

As the saying goes, it’s “better the devil you know,” as Tommy uproots his dispersed family from their country manors to the terraced housing and polluted air of Small Heath, seeking refuge from the retribution-chasing Changretta family, led by the unforgiving Luca (Brody). This resulted in some of Peaky Blinders’ finest moments, including some that dropped viewers’ jaws. As a mainstay, the killing of John (Joe Cole) was not only a shocking event but set a precedent that the show’s creators were not scared to give key components the chop.

1 Season 1

Peaky Blinders Season 1 finale
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Forget Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, season one of Peaky Blinders conceptualizes is the ultimate origin tale. This is Steven Knight’s series at its purest, unrefined and unadulterated. Living among the squalor, the industrialization of Birmingham and the unrelenting smog that seems to suffocate the lens of much of the first season, Tommy, Arthur, John, and Polly are running their illegal gambling empire in Small Heath, while being responsible for the maintenance of law and order in much of the midlands’ city.

This is just the beginning of their steep yet fruitful ascent of the acquisition of power and notoriety in the UK. Naturally, with the smallest budget of all the six seasons, the production isn’t as aesthetically exuberant as the latter installments, but the narrative is hearty and more insular, which allows for real authenticity, possessing a gritty realism that gradually diminishes as the seasons tick by.

Yes, unfortunately, Peaky Blinders appears to be one of those shows that, with the rare exception of season four, started out strong but got gradually weaker. Unlike other series, though, there is no terribly disappointing season that ruined the whole series, just several good seasons which nonetheless failed to capture the supreme artistry of the first six episodes.

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