Woof. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first real contender for the title of this year’s ‘Worst Of TV’ 2015 Bitch Awards.
Let’s bitch it out…
I’ve honestly tried to be patient with Between. This is a series that started off rocky, but it had ambition and for that I was willing to play along for a few episodes. The characters were unlikable and one dimensional, but they could grow when faced with adversity, right? The plot meandered and dipped into all kinds of ill-conceived tangents, but surely that would straighten out as characters came together, right? The visual aesthetic of the show was (and is) bleak and grey, but surely that suited the dystopian nature of the narrative and the technical aspects would grow more dynamic as the conspiracy unspools, right?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
With episode four, we’ve crossed into the second half of this abbreviated first season and I am officially all out of excuses. Between is bad.
- Like Helix bad.*
- Like The Following bad.*
- Like Gotham bad.*
*I know…I can’t believe I went there either.
So essentially episode four brings together all of the show’s worst qualities and wraps them in a big shiny bow of suck. Let’s run ’em down:
> Chuck (Justin Kelly): Week four and Chuck is still a rich, controlling asshole who thinks that he’s the law in town because…his dead dad used to own everything? Literally, Chuck has no claim to authority aside from the fact that he has a bunch of pimply faced morons who hang on his every word (what are they getting out of this, anyways?). Clearly Chuck’s inner dialogue heard during his run (which is literally just recycled dialogue from the first three episodes) is meant to give us insight into Chuck’s anxious frame of mind, but I feel no sympathy for him. That’s because a) Chuck is an asshat who flies off the handle every time he tries to lay down the law and b) as played by Kelly, he’s a really unlikable dink with a highly punchable face. Considering how episode two opened, we should be able to sympathize with Chuck’s attempt to prohibit young kids from driving, but the way he handles everything is not only so wrong, it is frequently driven by his own selfish sense of entitlement. #DownWithChuck
> Wiley (Jennette McCurdy): Lord, this girl continues to be the queen of bad decisions. After accepting Ronnie’s (Kyle Mac) invitation to live with the Creekers (ugh – that name!) for a bit, she somehow overlooks the fact that Ronnie is a total psycho. Exhibit A: the way he bosses his sister, Tracey (Jordan Todosey), into taking the baby. The entire rapey incident in the hunting lodge that follows should play out as a terrible incident, but honestly it is so contrived that it might as well have been engineered in a lab. The writers are desperate to humanize Wiley, but they make the cardinal mistake of using (attempted) rape as a shortcut for character development. In this case, the rape feels designed to create sympathy for Wiley and confirm that Ronnie is a major loose canon (as though we didn’t know). Honestly they might as well have just smacked us over the head with heavy mallets for all of the subtlety used.
PS: It didn’t really work because I still don’t like Wiley. McCurdy’s facial expression is permanently stuck on “surly” like she’s waiting for Nickelodeon to call and get her the eff off this shit show. Also: don’t new mothers kinda need to refrain from drinking so that they can nurse their babies? It’s not exactly like there’s tons of food available in town…
> Adam (Jesse Carere): OMG can we just talk about that bozo hair? It’s like a frayed mop on his head and everytime he takes off his hat, I can barely restrain my hysterical laughter. Alright, alright…honestly Adam, as a character, in theory, is fine. He’s one of the more interesting characters on the show because he’s the only person kind of acting like a rational human (he investigates the quarantine, Lana’s murder, etc). My problem is actually with Carere, whose every acting instinct is the opposite of what he should do. Whoever is encouraging his whispery, monotone delivery needs to be fired. His reaction to Symonds’ (Shailene Garnett) proclamation that it is her 22nd birthday is laughably awful.
> The lookalike girls: Tracey, Stacey (Samantha Munro), Samantha (Abigail Winter)…would it have killed the writers and casting agents to try and keep things a little more distinct? Normally similar character names or girls who look identical wouldn’t be a huge problem, but all of these girls are so one-note that without someone immediately identifying them by name or dumping them in a unique location, Between‘s female characters are actually kinda difficult to differentiate. Stacey is the slut-shamed hoe who tonight immediately jumps on Mark (Jack Murray) the first chance she gets and then gets dissed and dismissed by both him and Chuck (feminism!). Samantha, meanwhile, is the new girl that Chuck is supposed to find mysterious? Or we’re supposed to? It’s unclear, but randomly tossing in another new character into the mix is not what this show needs.
- Also: having Samantha read The Road? A little too on-the-nose. That’s honestly not even clever. What, was Lord of the Flies not available?
> The start/stop conspiracy: Each week we get a propaganda-approved message from Minister Miller (an unseen Rosemary Dunsmore). Not this week, though. Instead our miniscule development in the not-so-fascinating quarantine situation is the cliffhanger reveal that prison guard Ellen (Sarah Podemski) is actually a mole. I would normally applaud this deception since I thought Samantha’s introduction (and weak “dog bite” excuse) meant she was the government plant, but the way Ellen’s secret comes out is so lazy. She just outright asks Mark to spy for her and then whips out a working phone to ask for intel on Adam? What, a monologue about her motivations was too obvious?
> The tangents: Gord (Ryan Allen) and Frances (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon) come across an Amish girl bucked off her horse. Melissa (Brooke Palsson) frets about the destruction of bibles in the church. Stacey and Mark open a bar for underage kids. Clearly much of this is – ineptly – meant to pass for character development, but in reality it comes off as arbitrary time-wasting and/or repetitive. Which are, ironically, the exact two descriptors I would use to warn people away from this show.
- RIP Symonds. The power returned, she turned 22 and promptly died an undignified ooey, gooey bloody death in front of everyone. On the plus side, now we know she was having a secret affair with another faculty member named Evan. Oh wait…that doesn’t matter and no one cares.
- Tracey: she’s the only character I care about. Not coincidentally, Tracey is one of the only other characters with a brain. Plus she hits Ronnie with a shovel. Double bonus points.
- Lana’s murderer is revealed to be Pat (Jim Watson) – only he didn’t kill her, he was trying to save her. Apparently Lana, who looked all of 9 years old, was Ronnie’s dealer (“she was into the hard stuff” Pat explains, like we should know what that means). Oh, and she was suicidal, so she wasn’t murdered, she just committed suicide. So there’s no killer in town (because that might be legitimately interesting). What. A. Let. Down.
- So Pat kept Lana’s suicide note in his pocket just in case he gets accused of her murder? He kept the note, but not his hat? Riiiight.
- Also: When Chuck misinterprets Adam, his boys chase Pat. This makes sense, but then Chuck is forced to deal with the dumb diabetic kid he tied to a flagpole (because that’s something that happened), and he never calls his boys off. So why did they let Pat go? Literally the next scene is Pat calmly brushing off his brother’s attempted rape like a) he’s not being hunted for murder and b) stuff like attempted rape is totally not a big deal and Wiley shouldn’t flip out. Like, what?!
- Stacey’s parents’ bar is called The Lake. Because they live in a town called Pretty Lake. This fucking show.
- Tracey (mocking Adam’s excuse that he’s looking for drugs): “This guy wants some drugs. Not any particular kind, just some drugs” Exactly Tracey – this is why you’re awesome.
- Adam (learning beer is $50 at The Lake): “They’re actually taking money? What’s the point?” Symonds: “For hope”. UGH
- Adam (when Symonds announces her birthday): “You’re 22? Damn.” Understatement, thy name is Adam.
Your turn: is Between the worst show of the year? Which character is the dumbest? Are you sad Symonds died? Did you find the “killer” reveal significantly underwhelming? Intrigued by not-21-Ellen’s involvement in the conspiracy? Wishing the tiger would return? Sound off below.
Between airs Thursdays at 8pm EST on City TV in Canada and Fridays on Netflix