This smash hit show is basically a modern update of Desperate Housewives, with middle class mums, murder and neighbourhood maliciousness. And oh mother, do we love it.
Based on the bestselling novel by Liane Moriarty, the series follows five moms of Monterey, California, who as we learn at the beginning of the series, are somehow linked to a murder in the local community. But we don’t know who’s dead yet, nor when and why, and oh, the murder hasn’t actually happened yet either. Because as soon as we see the murder, we jump back in time and straight to the school gates to watch these yummy mummies battle it out over a choking incident in the classroom. Over the course of the series get to know these mixed-up mothers and their varied but equally tortured backgrounds, tension building as we journey towards the fateful night of the murder.
Each episode we learn everything and nothing, writer David E Kelley feeding us titbits of information before promptly letting us know they’re worthless. We guess what’s going on about five times per episode, then change our minds and decide we have no clue. But what a joy it is to go on this ride.
With a superb cast including Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon alongside Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgård and Shailene Woodley, this show will have you hooked. And the cinematography is as superb as the cast, making the most of this gorgeous bit of coastline and the Grand Designs-esque houses that are built there. The soundtrack, too, is brilliant – you’ll soon find yourself signing along to Michael Kiwanuka’s Cold Little Heart at the start of each episode.
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The show has definitely got a few soapy elements, but if you ask us, that’s what makes it so watchable. The melodrama is both gripping and funny, and the classic tropes of female rivalry are entertaining, even if they are overdramatised. And when placed alongside the show’s deeper topics like domestic violence, infidelity and sexual assault, the series stands out more as a fascinating thriller, rather than a trashy soap opera. But we reckon it’s the blending of the two styles that helped the show become such a success.
And it sounds like Lucy Mangan of The Guardian agrees with us, asking: “Bitchy mums, sexy dads, puppet sex and murder. What more could you want?” The series’ second season, which follows the murder trail, was equally successful too, with Serena Davies in The Telegraph saying, “the characters are all so good at being horrible to one another,” Reese Witherspoon is “so good, so sharp-tongued … and Streep seemed to be positively salivating at this role, soaking her performance in that sweetness we can’t separate from her, while spooning in the arsenic.” And James Poniewozik in The New York Times having worried that the show would have to “un-conclude itself” after season 1 felt that it “worked a lot better than I feared.”
First shown June 2019. You can watch the trailer for season two by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.