The Sex Pistols were to the U.K. in the 1970s what Nirvana was to the U.S. in the 1990s. They revolutionized the era's music industry and changed people's preconceived notions of how rock-and-roll could sound. The band lasted only two and a half years, and only released one full-length album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, in 1977. But in the 30 months they existed, they launched the punk movement in rock and roll, which later evolved into the alternative music scene. Their fashion choices are still relevant in culture today, from the dilapidated black leather and torn clothes to the silver spike jewelry and safety pin accessories.
The band has inspired films before (Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb's Sid & Nancy is probably the best known), but Pistol marks the first TV project to delve into who the Sex Pistols were and why they mattered. Based on guitarist Steve Jones' 2017 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, the six-episode limited series follows the band's original lineup Steve Jones, John Lydon, Paul Cook, and Glen Matlock, as they rose to fame, the band's first crackup when Matlock was fired and replaced with Sid Vicious, through the 1978 breakup.
The series was initially commissioned in January 2021, and series creator Craig Pearce reached out to all the living band members to get creative input. But Lydon apparently refused to be involved and declared the series "the most disrespectful shit I've ever had to endure" and sued in July 2021 to keep the production from using the band's music from being used in the series. A judge decided in favor of the show a month later, but fans should expect more mess in the press with the series now having set a release date.
Here's the series synopsis:
Pistol is a six-episode limited series about a rock and roll revolution. The furious, raging storm at the center of this revolution are the Sex Pistols - and at the center of this series is Sex Pistols' founding member and guitarist, Steve Jones. Jones' hilarious, emotional, and at times heartbreaking journey guides us through a kaleidoscopic telling of three of the most epic, chaotic, and mucus-spattered years in the history of music. Based on Jones' memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, this is the story of a band of spotty, noisy, working-class kids with "no future" who shook the boring, corrupt Establishment to its core, threatened to bring down the government and changed music and culture forever.
The series stars Toby Wallace as Jones, Anson Boon as Lydon, Jacob Slater as Cook, Christian Lees as Matlock, Louis Partridge as Vicious, Dylan Llewellyn as "lost Sex Pisttol" Wally Nightingale, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as manager Malcolm McLaren. The series also features a lot of co-stars in real-life roles, including Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen, Alexander Arnold as Jamie Reid, Maisie Williams as Pamela Rooke, Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Iris Law as Susan Lucas, Zachary Goldman as Billy Idol, Kai Alexander as Richard Branson, and Ben Sardeson as Bertie Bromley.
The series is a project produced by FX and will stream exclusively on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in the U.K. Director Danny Boyle said he argued (and lost) to have the series air on the BBC for free. He felt the series should be broadcast free over the air since the Sex Pistols were such an essential piece of British cultural history. They also represented a push by the working class to break into the cultural mainstream that was usually only accessible to those from wealthier backgrounds.
Pistol debuts with all episodes on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.