Farewell, Top Boy: The UK Crime Drama That Shifted Culture Forever

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We see the return of Dushane and Sully as a new generation has risen in their absence, expanding to include the London Fields youth. The story leans into newer themes in the community, like county lines, immigration issues, and injects others with more depth. We meet Jaq and Jamie, the leader of the ZTs, Shelley, and Modie, played by Little Simz and Dave—two  highly respected rappers making their acting debuts. Suddenly, you had swarms of Americans making TikToks copying our slang and throwing phrases everywhere—”Where’s my food, bruv?” “Give me the pees, fam!”—and joking about how people there started to adopt our behaviours and dress sense. 

The London x Toronto link-ups reaffirmed Drake’s highlight of that shared culture, and collaborations spotlighted how we exist. During the show’s six-year absence, A$AP Rocky and Skepta linked up, Dave, Giggs and Skepta collabed with Drake, and UK drill became the new sound of the youth. The late Pop Smoke, who quickly became the poster boy for NY Drill, was heavily inspired by UK drill and wasn’t afraid to say so. Black British actors from ends, like John Boyega, Daniel Kaluuya and Damson Idris, were also becoming stars in their own right, shining in all of their roles. The idea of our accents being hard to digest dwindled as Top Boy and parts of our culture became prominent enough for the wider world to see.

When Top Boy hit Netflix, it immediately felt like a glossier show, with a bigger budget and a belief from the streaming giant that bolstered the idea of becoming one of the best shows on there. We visit Spain, Jamaica, Morocco and Ramsgate over its seasons. The soundtrack, curated by Drizzy, is infused with music from our scenes, adding an extra layer of identification. Its expanse made it much more violent, raw, and leaned heavily on moral juxtaposition as its storylines converge. The implications of Dushane and Sully’s relationship deteriorating from the first C4 season started to fall into place as the dynamic evolved.

It offered some legendary moments, like Dave simply being Modie, Kano and his stellar all-around performance, and the ZTs’ chaotic energy. It shows some heartfelt returns, like Jason and Gem in Ramsgate, and a Dris impacted by the aftermath of balloons. Its fourth season reinforced that massive production feel, continuing in the same vein. Some may argue that the writing in this season started to fade away for a focus on the action of it all, but it still carried a weight and anxiety that makes it a nail-biting watch. 

Top Boy has been so topical over the years that it’s enticed fans to consider themes often overlooked in countless portrayals of life in the hood. It is so eventful and leaves you in a morally grey area. Due to this, every season becomes a debate about the crazed scenarios the show presents.

In this final season, which dropped on September 7, 2023, all fans of Top Boy expected an ending typical of most crime dramas, where justice or karma prevails. We expected story lines to be fulfilled, and to see more of the personal journeys a lot of these characters have made, either dealing with the consequences or trying to seek otherwise. Personally, I felt a lot of things about this nail-in-the-coffin season, but overall, I was enamoured with what Top Boy has achieved as a whole.

Considering this appreciation, here are some of the most memorable moments the show has produced:

Michaels Fall