Reese Witherspoon as a superficially perfect housewife in a US suburb brimming with hidden resentments – if it sounds a bit like Big Little Lies, that’s probably no coincidence for producers trying to channel that show’s huge success. But does it match up?
Reese Witherspoon (as Elena) and Kerry Washington (as Mia) both star and produce the show – as two very different, but protective, mothers whose worlds come tumbling down when their paths cross amid layers of class and race. Ed Cumming in the Independent thinks the show is “written and directed with a sure touch… Few actresses do priggish better than Witherspoon, and she gives Elena plenty of Stepford hauteur, but the role is underwritten and Elena is too obnoxious to be sympathetic.”
In the Los Angeles Times Lorraine Ali agrees that the two main characters are narrow and that whilst there is “clumsy dialogue” the series is “entertaining as a high-end soap opera driven by star power, a little bit of mystery and lots of ‘90s pop culture references.” Mike Hale in The New York Times thinks that “the script and soundtrack take great pains to remind you” that the setting is the 1990s, however, “you’ll most likely be reminded of a more recent vocabulary. You can almost sense the characters catching themselves just before they refer to one another’s appropriations, microaggressions and code switching. Rarely has a period piece felt this assiduously up-to-date in its racial and gender politics.”
Must TV really rate Reese Witherspoon – she was one of the best things about The Morning Show and was outstanding in Big Little Lies, but she can’t quite rescue this adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel from being OK, rather than great.
First shown May 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.