When team Must heard about this new show from Nicole Kidman and David E Kelly we were genuinely excited: we’re like Big Little Lies here we go again…
And indeed it is very much on point: glossy super-rich Americans with all the problems of, erm, the super rich, plus added crime thrills. Like Big Little Lies, Strangers is based on a best-selling novel by Liane Moriarty, but this show sees nine strangers rock up at an expensive wellness resort run by a creepy Russian called Masha (played by Kidman). It’s the kind of place where on arrival they confiscate your phone, take your bloods and check your luggage for booze and fags. So, a bit like an Easyjet holiday, but in reverse.
+ Check out our review of the brilliant Big Little Lies
+ Check out similar shows, in this list of our favourite glossy thrillers
+ Add this and other shows to your watchlist by creating an account here
But, we can’t pretend it’s as good as the earlier show. It is indeed glossy and intriguing and a terrific cast, which includes Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Boone, Luke Evans and Samara Weaving, are fully firing, but it’s just a bit… dull. And sadly Kidman feels more like a comedy character than anyone who is genuinely malevolent – we think she’s channeling her taxidermist from the Paddington movie. And the reviewers seem to agree.
Describing the series as “a sort of Agatha Christie with smoothies and yoga mats”, Ben Dowell in The Timesreckons Nicole Kidman probably thought the show presented a “fresh acting challenge,” but in reality it “remains resolutely and oh-so-bloodlessly on-brand: another imperious, glacial, emotionally measured gig that comes with a trailerful of expensive threads and an army of hairstylists.” The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan is also unconvinced by Kidman, but rates Melissa McCarthy as the stand-out performance: “As is so often the case with the magnificent McCarthy, she is the best, most arresting thing in the series, and every time she comes back on screen you wriggle with delight.” Writing in the Independent Kevin E G Perry says “the stellar cast’s obvious chemistry helps elevate a script that grows increasingly melodramatic as each of their character’s secrets are brought to light.” But for all that, “It may all make for toothless satire but it’s still enjoyably soapy TV.”
First shown August 2021. You can watch the trailer above, by pressing play on the show image.