There was a writer’s moment right at the end of Broadchurch (right at the end, so no spoilers here) that said quite a lot about how the writer, Chris Chibnall, thought about the drama.
After three series, and twenty hours of drama, and after solving their latest and last case, Miller (Olivia Colman) and Hardy (David Tennant) are sitting on a bench, not that close, with the cliffs behind them.
MILLER: I could do with a drink. Do you want one? We could go to the pub, we’ve never been to the pub.
MILLER (getting up): I should get back for Daisy.
HARDY (also getting up): I should get back to my boys.
The detective series that always ended with the detectives having a drink, of course, was Morse, and that tradition carries on with its offshoot Lewis. Morse and Lewis are puzzles to be solved, and the pint is like a reward for finishing a difficult crossword.
I think what’s going here is a writer’s side-swipe: Chris Chibnall is saying that those shows where they have a pint as mates after the case is solved are just stories. The narrative gets closed as the case is cracked. Life, on the other hand, isn’t tidy: the case may be over (Hardy says just before , “We did our job, Miller, we got the people responsible, that’s all we can do”) but life carries on. Drama is closed but life is open. In other words, Broadchurch isn’t just another one of those television cop shows.
Of course, it’s a writer’s conceit, since obviously Broadchurch is another television cop show. But because the detectives’ family lives have been so much a part of the story (unlike Morse) it’s a conceit that works.