TV Review: The Casual Vacancy can’t pull all of its pieces together

Although J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy shares certain themes with her celebrated Harry Potter series—both contain the story of a tragic kid who grows up without the help of parents—the lack of magic in the former took some of the charm out of her storytelling prowess. Whereas Harry is told he’s special by a half-giant and whisked away from his nasty aunt, uncle, and cousin to a world of wonder, The Casual Vacancy‘s Krystal Weedon must live in the perpetual oppression of a rundown house with no father, a drugged-out mother, and a toddler brother to watch out for. Now adapted for television by Sarah Phelps (Oliver Twist), the story plays out on the screen much like it did on the page—reality hits hard, with no bright fantasy elements to cover up a few notable flaws.

The HBO miniseries, which originally aired on …

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