“How surprising it is to see such a captivating and empowering feminist call-to-arms in a gory witch drama!”
The story begins in a typical scenario. A boy meets a girl and brings her to his apartment, but he refuses to accept rejection. Luckily, the girl is more powerful than he thought and she turns the tables, using her abilities to drain his life force.
This exciting moment of female revenge is not only a captivating introduction to the new supernatural series, Domino Day, on BBC, but also the key scene that sparked the idea for show creator Lauren Sequeira. “I had that scene in my mind from the beginning,” she explains. “I wanted the audience to feel like the female character was in danger and a victim, but then I wanted to empower her.” The male character, who is not only a jerk that boasts about his salary and dictates what she should drink, is unfortunately a common figure for many women. However, to make him even more despicable, it is revealed that he was secretly filming the encounter, hoping to capture a sexual assault. This, too, is based on real-life experiences. “In high school, there was a guy who used to film girls,” shares Sequeira. “I’m sure it still happens today, so we incorporated it into the show.”
This type of conflict resembles the one depicted in the Oscar-winning film Promising Young Woman, where Carey Mulligan’s character pretends to be heavily intoxicated to expose rapists. However, Domino takes a more aggressive approach.
Siena Kelly, the actress who portrays the titular character, expresses her admiration for the movie by saying, “I absolutely adore that film.” However, she had expected it to be more intense and violent. The character of Domino possesses powerful magical abilities, which stem from witchcraft. She also has elements of vampirism and relies on feeding off of humans to sustain herself. She purposely chooses to prey on despicable men and endures awful dates in order to survive. Kelly empathizes with her character’s struggles and states that she “feels deep shame for the actions she must take to stay alive.” In an attempt to justify her actions, Domino targets dangerous individuals. The show cleverly combines satire with supernatural elements, resulting in a highly entertaining and feminist commentary on British television.
Kelly, renowned for her Bafta-nominated portrayal of a young pornographic actress in Adult Material, portrays Domino as a complex and strong character. The role required a lot of physicality, as Kelly had to physically overpower men and contort her body into various positions during the intimate scenes where her abilities are displayed. Fortunately, Kelly had prior experience, having taken dance classes since the age of three and competing regularly throughout her childhood and teenage years.
Although many of the men that Domino goes after are morally corrupt, Sequeira notes that the actors themselves are actually kind individuals. Kelly, who is also a certified yoga instructor, taught them how to properly stretch before and after scenes that required them to writhe in pain. Due to the repetitive nature of the scenes, some of the actors experienced physical discomfort in their backs.
Kelly is considered a triple threat due to her talents in yoga, but Domino is not a typical witch. As the show progresses, we learn that she is a “lamia”, a witch who typically consumes children, but there are variations where they also consume men.
A group of resilient women play a crucial role in guiding her towards this realization. Domino finds herself welcomed into a community of fashionable botanists, which has a deeper significance than one might expect. As Sequeira explains, her day job involves witchcraft, herbalism, and marketing potions. However, the most significant aspect for her was being surrounded by powerful and caring Black women.
Domino Day also features plenty of wry satire. As the lead character isn’t about to start chowing down on toddlers, digital romance platforms become her hunting ground. Sequeira saw it as an opportunity to skewer “this app culture which rarely fosters true connections”. She laughs when admitting she’s recently gone back on them. Still, at least she can now spot red flags straight away: “Guys in a topless shot – or ones with him with lots of friends out on the lash.”
However, this is not a society where every man is evil. In the show, Leon (played by Percelle Ascott) wins over Domino with his charm while playing bowling, and Sequeira wanted to portray a positive image of a Black man who is successful and kind. Ascott’s performance was so captivating that his character, Leon, became a crucial part of Domino’s journey, transitioning from a minor character to a major one. As the story progresses and Domino faces challenges from both external enemies and her own self-doubt, the show also explores the happiness and passion found in relationships. Sequeira expresses her surprise at how sensuous and alluring these scenes turned out.