April 20, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue
Have you heard about Netflix’s latest series Hemlock Grove? I’m about halfway through the series right now and… well, I’m not sure what I think.
Hemlock Grove has so many elements that I just can’t decide if it’s brilliant or just bizarre.
Women in a small town being mauled to death by unknown forces? Check.
Mad scientist with a god complex and running super secret research program? Check.
Werewolves? Check. But it’s still not what you think.
Unlikely friendship to blossom between the rich kid in town and the outsider new kid? Check.
Love triangles? Check. Check. Check.
Towering teenage girl who glows blue when touched? Check.
Famke Janssen being fabulous, manipulative, and evil? Check.
The thing about this show is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The two characters who I believe to be our main protagonists are in high school. Yet, I would not call this a young adult show. While it doesn’t quite match True Blood in gore and sexual explicitness, it’s definitely beyond anything in Vampire Diaries. Plus, the show spends as much time around its adult characters as it does the teenagers.
This leaves me wondering: Who is their target audience?
For the most part, the show is visually intriguing. Beautiful stylistic shots abound in every episode. There is quite a bit of attention to detail in the smallest things. For example, there is a character whose face is malformed and one of her eyes is bulbous and rides low on her face in contrast to her normal eye. The producers perfectly synced up the blinking of this fake eye to the actor’s real one. It’s a small thing, but it really makes a difference.
Then, for all the attention to detail and realism, we’ll get stuck in a scene that takes place in Bill Skarsgård’s character’s convertible and it’s so blatantly obvious that the car is being filmed against a green screen that I cringe inside and can’t take the scene seriously.
So many characters, so little time.
My other major issue with the show is plot development. I’m halfway through the season and still don’t feel like I have a clue what’s going on. I think much of the problem is that the show has too many characters and too many subplots. Now, I think they’re all inextricably tied together which is the only reason I’m still watching at this point. Otherwise I would be seriously annoyed.
If this was a book, I wouldn’t have the same issue with it, at least not to the same degree. I don’t think twice about getting halfway through a book and not getting answers. I kind of expect it. However, this is a TV show. The episodic nature makes me want something somewhat conclusive in each episode and Hemlock Grove does not provide.
It’s taken the route that True Blood hit in later seasons. With so many characters and subplots fighting for screen time, the viewer gets maybe five minutes of plot development and then is yanked out of that scene and dumped into a different one with different characters and different problems. With True Blood I started saving up 2-3 episodes at a time. Eventually, I just stopped bothering to watch at all because about half of the scenes were subplots I didn’t give a crap about and was tired of making no progress.
My fear is that Hemlock Grove is dangerously close to repeating this same mistake. While there are no subplots that are as horribly out of place as Terry and the Ifrit, the overall feeling I’m left with while watching is similar.
When do we find out what the hell is going on in Hemlock Grove?
For now I’ll keep watching to see what happens. I’m still hoping they’re going to pull off something miraculous in the latter half of the season that will tie all of the loose ends together.
Anyone else seen the show? What did you think?