I recently stumbled across a show that managed to qualify as one of those rare glimmers of entertainment that both my wife and I could enjoy together. If you have managed to wander into this sacred Netflix territory with your respective partner, you may find yourself loathing and cherishing it equally. Loathing because if you jump ahead in the series by yourself it is tantamount to divorce, and cherishing because embarking on a binge through hours of Netflix simply feels better together.
Perhaps we were enjoying it for all the wrong reasons though. Whilst I’d heard that Harlan Coben was the king of the multiple twist – and we both enjoyed the Netflix adaptation of Safe immensely, another Coben adaptation – what we looked forward to most each night was spotting the multitude of sink holes in the plot and counting the amount of bizarre twists and turns that unfolded, which, when we lost count at around 3902, we decided to start guessing at what the next revelation would be with surprising accuracy.
I would have to read the book to understand whether this works better in a literary sense, but for me, it was more than a bit hard to swallow. To its credit though, we found ourselves coming back for more, charging through all eight episodes to feel somewhat disappointed that the fun had to eventually come to an end.
The story starts with your typical British family – wealthy, gorgeous, happy. This is typical? On that point, I find it fascinating that the brits have claimed Coben as their muse for novel-turn-television adaptations considering he’s from New Jersey, The Stranger is an exploration of the American Dream and there is a plethora of British thrillers to choose from should you wish to splice seventy odd thousand words and visualize it in eight forty minute segments.
Anyway, ‘The Stranger’ approaches Adam Price revealing a secret about his wife, and as secrets go, quite a damning and unbelievable one at that. We never do find out just why his wife decided to ‘fake’ a pregnancy, but relax, there is no need for a spoiler alert. This tid bit is vanilla compared with the bizarre events that subsequently unfold, five of which are in the first episode.
We follow multiple plot lines which eventually converge – a crooked cop, some mischievous kids, an ex copper about to lose his house and some rat poison thrown in there somewhere for good measure – all tying up nicely at the end. Too nicely. The kind of professional ribbon work that the gift wrapping service is capable of, but you’re not. This brings in the closure that we all crave – we need answers as human beings, everything needs to make sense – but the perfection in it is what nags at you. Life simply doesn’t roll out like that.
If you take it as a bit of fun, you’ll love it. If you take it seriously, you’ll probably still love taking the piss out of it. Bring on more of this stuff, I say. Good enough is the new excellent. 🎞🎞🎞 out of 🎞🎞🎞🎞🎞 C.P.