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The Biggest Problem Arthur Shelby Has In Peaky Blinders

BBC's Peaky Blinders is a stylish take on the Shelby family's criminal exploits between the two World Wars, but despite the titular gang's snazzy clothes and cool demeanor, the show makes it abundantly clear that its main characters are deeply disturbed, shell-shocked men. While not everything in Peaky Blinders is real, historically speaking, the series does convey some things extremely well. For instance, several characters in the show are either veterans or survivors of World War I, and, at times, you can virtually taste the post-traumatic stress disorder they're wrestling with.  

Among all these grizzled, violent, tortured men, Arthur Shelby Jr. (Paul Anderson) stands head and shoulders above the rest. Though he's the eldest of the Shelby boys, he plays a distant second fiddle to his brother Tommy (Cillian Murphy) and acts as the savage wild card of the family — to the point that Aunt Polly (Helen McRory) outright calls him a "mad dog." Along with his often cruel antics and rampant substance use, Arthur carries much hurt and sadness inside him, and is just about as troubled as a person can be. But what, out of his many issues, is the greatest of all? Here's the biggest problem Arthur Shelby has in Peaky Blinders.

Arthur Shelby's biggest problem in Peaky Blinders is Tommy Shelby

Despite his addictions, awful upbringing, traumatic war experiences, and violent tendencies, Arthur Shelby has ample potential to be a good man. When he's not sulking or wrestling with his various demons, he can be an emotional and gentle soul with a capacity for genuine friendliness and positive gestures. Unfortunately, whenever it seems that he discovers morality or starts pulling himself out of his usual funk, a certain, unavoidable force appears to drag him back in the mud: his own brother, Tommy.

As Screen Rant points out, Arthur's biggest problems in the show are related to Tommy. One of them Tommy can't really do anything about: It's the massive inferiority complex Arthur develops early on when it becomes apparent that his younger brother is vastly more capable of running the family than he is. Another, though, is a nastier case. Arthur's experiences in World War I continue to haunt him — yet, whenever his character starts to develop in a positive way, Tommy pulls him back with some variation of the "c'mon, be a loyal soldier" trick. This tactic never allows Arthur to truly improve as a person and leave the horrors of being a soldier behind. It's an especially nasty move when you remember that Tommy himself was also in the war and struggles to cope with the trauma himself. 

Add all this to the fact that Arthur is blindly loyal to his little brother, and it sure seems that Tommy is the habit the elder Shelby should really kick. It remains to be seen whether Peaky Blinders season 6 will finally give him the wherewithal to do so.