New Sex Pistols TV series gets mixed reviews amid John Lydon criticism

31 May 2022, 14:34 | Updated: 31 May 2022, 14:39

The Sex Pistols' John Lydon even launched an unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the band's music from appearing in the new Disney+ show, Pistol.
The Sex Pistols' John Lydon even launched an unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the band's music from appearing in the new Disney+ show, Pistol. Picture: Disney/FX/Alamy

By Giorgina Hamilton

New drama 'Pistol' has garnered mixed reviews from critics as the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones urges frontman John Lydon to 'grow up' over portrayal criticism.

Directed by Danny Boyle, the six-part series is based on guitarist Steve Jones' memoir, Lonely Boy, and charts the rise of the Sex Pistols in London's punk scene in the 1970s.

The series release on Disney+ has seen tensions running high among band members, with John Lydon, 66, even launching an unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the Sex Pistols' music from appearing in the show.

Reviews for the series are mixed, with some critics saying portraying the story of the Sex Pistols from one band member's perspective "gives the story a wonky, skewed focus".

The release of 'Pistol' has caused cracks among members of the Sex Pistols.
The release of 'Pistol' has caused cracks among members of the Sex Pistols. Picture: Disney/FX/Alamy
When the trailer for Pistol was released, Lydon called it “a middle-class fantasy”.
When the trailer for Pistol was released, Lydon called it “a middle-class fantasy”. Picture: Disney/FX

Lydon, also known as Jonny Rotten, is portrayed by actor Anson Boon in the series and was not involved in the making of the TV programme.

When the trailer for Pistol was released, Lydon called it “a middle-class fantasy”.

“Disney have stolen the past and created a fairytale, which bears little resemblance to the truth,” he said.

Speaking to The Sun on Lydon's reaction to the series, Jones said, "The show is about me. It ain’t about John, even though he is obviously a big part of it."

"If the shoe was on the other foot, no one would have had a problem. If Danny Boyle wanted to do John’s book, everyone would be thrilled."

John Lydon (pictured) said “Disney have stolen the past and created a fairytale, which bears little resemblance to the truth."
John Lydon (pictured) said “Disney have stolen the past and created a fairytale, which bears little resemblance to the truth.". Picture: Alamy

Jones added: "I’m 66 and I ain’t got time for all that crap any more. You’ve just got to grow up and move on."

Among the controversy Lydon has undoubtedly created free PR for the show: "For a series that is all about the power of image, being rejected by Lydon must be the ultimate publicity coup," The Guardian reports.

In its review, The Guardian criticises the creators for trying to force song lyrics into the script:"[Johnny] talks in scraps of what will become lines from their handful of songs. It’s Pistols: the panto."

But does compliment the actors, who all learned to play their character's instruments for Pistol: "The performance scenes give a desperately needed shot of energy. It sounds great, and hints at how thrilling it must have been to be in the room."

The Guardian goes on to award the show a lowly two star review and adds that fitting three years of the band's life in just six episodes "ends up feeling too fast and too loose" with a "frustrating sense of delayed gratification."

The Hollywood Reporter said of new series &squot;Pistol&squot;: "Far from the shock to the system that the band intended their music to be, Pistol feels like a cover album of tunes we already know by heart."
The Hollywood Reporter said of new series 'Pistol': "Far from the shock to the system that the band intended their music to be, Pistol feels like a cover album of tunes we already know by heart.". Picture: Disney/FX
The Sex Pistols (pictured) took the world by storm when they emerged on the British punk scene in the 1970s. Pictured at a press conference to discuss their firing from A & M records in 1977.
The Sex Pistols (pictured) took the world by storm when they emerged on the British punk scene in the 1970s. Pictured at a press conference to discuss their firing from A & M records in 1977. Picture: Alamy

The Hollywood Reporter also gives a rave review of the acting talent, and that John Lydon actor Anson Boon's arrival on screen: "feels like a star-is-born moment," adding: "Guitarist and founder Steve Jones may be the show’s protagonist... but Boon’s John is its soul."

However the praise takes a sharp turn and Danny Boyle's series is criticised for it's well-trodden path: "Far from the shock to the system that the band intended their music to be, Pistol feels like a cover album of tunes we already know by heart."

Adding that it's nowhere near as ground-breaking as the band was in its heyday: "Pistol is too busy admiring the youthful rebellion of the past to recognise that, in doing so, it’s become the very thing its subjects once sneered at: a safe, mainstream crowd-pleaser."

Pistol is available now on Disney+.

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