The truth hurts
Published January 19, 2020
Having loved both For All Mankind and The Morning Show, I was expecting big things from the next AppleTV+ adventure – this time, a crime mystery with a podcast host at the helm. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite stand up to the competition even within its own broadcaster, let alone looking further afield.
Let’s start with the good, though, the cast were great and they did the best they could with the scripts they had. (I really think Aaron Paul was massively under-used, only able to show his emotion in that final episode.) I also went along with the underlying mystery – it seemed to be a pretty good one. The twists and turns were fun, and I hadn’t really guessed the murderer although had a bit of an inkling in the final couple of episodes.
The direction was good, the sets polished, the general scope was for grim greys and blues but with a glossy edge.
Unfortunately, if you start digging too much further, the glossy edge fades and you’re left with some huge question marks. Poppy, for a start, really seemed to make the wrong decision at every turn. She started a podcast with very few of the facts – you have to do at least a bit of an investigation before you queue up your first episode. She seemed to air her “this person is guilty” thoughts with very little evidence and often before talking to the police about it.
She seemed to have an effect on people that didn’t really come across on camera. They’d steadfastly refuse to talk to her and then cave to her demands within about twenty seconds although it was never really clear why.
The podcast setup itself made no sense. The producer never really seemed to do anything as Poppy herself pressed all the buttons and did most of her recording late at night. The ceilings in her room were far too high to get the clean, muted sound from her recordings and she made the rookie error of recording where there could be interruptions like phones and doorbells.
And then you get to the case itself. Like I said, the underlying mystery was fun, but it never really made sense why Poppy felt such a desire to get involved (even with the mother/foster mother revelations). Warren said he read the diaries and knew the secret code to decipher them, but then somehow didn’t know about the allegations that were contained within. And why was the husband so suspicious of the ex-foster-carer? It felt like there was going to be a whole subplot there that just fizzled away into nothing.
There was so much of that stuff that it completely overshadowed anything good contained within the eight episodes. As entertaining as it was, I don’t think it stands up to rigorous scrutiny and therefore won’t go down in the history books of good TV.