Apple TV+ keeps making his offering of content stronger and stronger. They have been releasing some of the best shows in 2022, and with Shining Girls they seem deadlocked on keeping that trend. This time, their new offering goes into more of a conventional space. That of a mystery show, with a villain going rampant through the street, a reporter looking to find the truth, and a victim saying no more after many long years of being held back by the watch happened to her.
However, that conventional set up has a twist. Time travel, not the sort that is done with a machine, but the one that is done with the mind. Shining Girls, the new show on Apple TV+ is not only a mystery show in the vein of finding who is the murder, or in this case, the abuser. But also to find out why the victim is just traveling through time, and how the abuser can find her, always no matter where, no matter when.
The show is based on the novel by the same name, written by Lauren Beukes. And it is produced by Leonardo DiCaprio himself, who actually has been doing some impressive producing work at Apple TV+ where even the new Martin Scorsese film has found its home.
The show is being directed by Michelle MacLaren, one of the best TV directors of the current era, and stars Elizabeth Moss, in the role of Kirby Mazrachi. A survivor, who has been literally trapped in the past by her abuser. Now years later, her mind travels with her to different points in time as the terrifying abuser, Harper Curtis, is willing to travel through space and time to find her again and again.
The metaphor explains itself, there is really nothing about subtext in Shining Girls. The concept is being made explicit at every point in the story, and that is what makes it interesting. Yes, it might mean that the show is nothing more than a simple allegory on sexual abuse, but there is no other show doing exactly that out there. That is what makes the show unique.
The lack of subtlety is compensated with a lot of terrifying imagery and a wonderful sense of atmosphere. MacLaren has proven herself time and time again, directing all sorts of shows during her whole career. So in terms of direction and visually, the show is really consistent when it tries to represent a mind that has been shattered. A mind that has been hurt and is looking for some sort of anchor that can help it stay within reality.
The subject of sexual abuse is a complicated one, and many members of the audience could get triggered because of the way that the show is depicting such events. And yet, we can say that we think the show is doing it with the utmost respect. So, even if you think the show is not for you, you might want to give it a chance.
It is in regard to the subject matter that the sci-fi element of time travel feels like something that has been added in order to make the story more appealing to the mainstream. A show that says it is about abuse can only go so far with mainstream audiences, but a shot that is about mystery and about time travel can go way beyond a niche audience. It is great, because the message is still there, and it will find its way to more people thanks to the genre factor.
Elizabeth Moss is one of the greatest actors of her generations. She is able to bring a level of intensity and grandeur that is not often seen in actors of her age. Here, she brings her usual energy in a role that can remind us of what she did with Peggy in the early seasons of Mad Men, or her performance in The Invisible Man. She is a perfect protagonist for this sort of story. And while you can easily get behind her as someone that should be supported, there is also a distance that might never be a bridge between what her character is experiencing, and the audience.
Jaime Bell, also makes an appearance and while brief, each time he appears on-screen you can feel that this is not a good man. Harper Curtis could be one of the greatest villains on television in the making, and the actor pulls it off with ease. Let’s hope that this doesn’t bring any sort of unwanted attention to him in real life, sometimes people cannot see the difference between fiction and reality.
Shining Girls is a very well-made show. It might be confusing towards the beginning. However, the show still wants to go deeper into the unknown with it and for that we can say that it is a show with a lot of things to tell and a lot of surprises under its belt.