Is it possible to lampoon all genres? Netflix’s choices of enticing keywords are often too simplistic to work or so niche as to exclude, yet terms such as ‘Dark Comedy’ and ‘Satire’ bring with them certain expectations.
The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window (from herein on known as TWITHATSFTGITW ) claims to couple those expectations with the often untapped unreliable narrator thriller market. We therefore get to gawp, drink in hand, at the bloody mess left as a result.
What tone is TWITHATSFTGITW going for, exactly? If it’s a comedic one then the show seems to forget to even attempt this for several episodes.
Anna (Kristen Bell) is our classic hot mess. Her daughter is dead and her husband has left. She’s guzzling wine and chewing down pills to the extent that we don’t know whether to believe what she sees, least of which the apparent murder across the road.
There is room for jokes here, something TWITHATSFTGITW fails to catch as they spill down its nice furniture and drain away through its floors. At first, it seems as if things might go down Naked Gun territory as Anna’s voiceover starts in an English accent for no reason before listing doing so as a criticism her ex-husband used to make.
Plus, her reliance on casseroles for all problems is a quintessential trope of suburbia (Hot new neighbour? Casserole. Apology for breaking and entering? Casserole. Someone died? Get the dish!) as is her down the hatch drinking. Yet TWITHATSFTGITW accidentally plays this all totally straight.
The tone is so straight, in fact, that for the first few episodes TWITHATSFTGITW (no, I’m not doing the whole title again) portrays a fairly engaging quiz.
Who killed the bitchy woman who threw away Anna’s pens? Did she even die at all? So far, so The Woman In The Window (which, like the title, is very closely copied). Bell’s performance is lacking any twinkle in the eye to suggest that there is any kind of joke going on.
The moment the show breaks is when we learn exactly what killed Anna’s daughter in a set-up so bizarre and vicious that is, once you realised Anna is not joking, like a smack in the face.
Her bereavement is, again, something done with all serious conviction to the point of Anna hallucinating that her daughter is still alive, and rushing to make the school run in her dressing gown before remembering.
It's genuinely tragic and, because TWITHATSFTGITW slacks off so hard on any actual humour, the OTT cause of death is just plain upsetting.
Is TWITHATSFTGITW Worth Watching?
Occasionally TWITHATSFTGITW tries to slip in some more overtly comic moments through daft excessiveness. A flamboyant sex scene involving someone who may or may not be a swole red herring and some more obviously stupid deaths gets that balance better.
Later episodes up the screen time for a suspicious cop (Christina Anthony) who thankfully does get the brief on delivering serious dialogue in a way that simultaneously undercuts it. Yet by this point, the damage is done.
TWITHATSFTGITW never recovers from its early cognitive dissonance. It’s a parody that uncorks the standard label store wine and adds nothing extra to it, whilst knocking over a full glass into our carpet.
Call 911 because the crazy lady across the street just slipped and hit her head on a casserole dish.
Words by Mike Record