The first thing that I did upon starting my final winter break was watch two complete seasons of a television show. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds.
This review will be going over the first two seasons of Hemlock Grove, a Netflix original series.
Hemlock Grove is a horror series on Netflix which I’ve been hearing a lot about, but never had the time to watch. The series has two male leads, played by Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron. The series also stars Famke Janssen which I thought was quite notable. Lili Taylor makes recurring appearances as well. Overall, I don’t have too many problems with the casting. There could be more diversity, but that stands for pretty much everything on television.
Let’s start with season 1
Brief Overview: Sex, drugs, alcohol, murder, violence, sexual violence, strong use of slurs against the Romani.. This is definitely not a show for the kids.
Positives: I think that the first season had a pretty interesting storyline. It definitely caught my interest and carried it through the entire season. The spree of murders and the shared dreams between Peter and Roman (Liboiron and Skarsgard) made sense in relation to the end goal. This is definitely the better season of the two that are currently available.
Negatives: While I did like this season, there were several things that I didn’t like. It was a very love/hate relationship.
- The overuse of g***y was really starting to get to me. It was definitely being used in the derogatory way, and the amount of times it was said was just very shocking. I could probably attach a positive to this for the show highlighting the prejudice against the Romani people, but I felt like some of the instances when the slur was used were too much.
- I felt like the overall outcome for Letha was just to give the male characters feelings for the next season. I was extremely disappointed in how her character was handled, and this isn’t just with the show, but also in the source material if it is the same way. It was an out of nowhere shocker for the season finale, and really the only thing to push the series forward. I am still upset by it.
- Upir. The series uses the term Upir to refer to the both Olivia and Roman Godfrey (Janssen and Skarsgard), but it isn’t defined until the last 10 minutes of the season finale. I waited until episode 10, then figured it wasn’t going to be defined for me, so I googled it, and then the “big reveal” was spoiled for me. They should have clearly defined what an Upir was around the halfway point, sometime between episodes 6-8, rather than episode 13.
I’m sure there were more negatives, but since this season isn’t fresh in my mind at the moment, those are the only problems that I can remember. Therefore they are probably the most pressing.
Now for season 2
Brief overview: Less sex, less drugs, less alcohol, still murder, still violence, less use of slurs
Positives: They took many characters that were only on the side during the first season, and they put them as regular cast members for season 2. This is a very good thing because we get to see more Tiio Horn and Joel de la Fuente who I felt were very strong characters in the first season.
Negatives: This season was a whole lot of “what the f***” for me.
- The storyline wasn’t as compelling as it was throughout the first season. It wasn’t pulling me from episode to episode until the end of the season when things started to really pick up.
- They got really experimental with music during this season, and many times this made “action” sequences seem really campy. This is really apparent during the season finale when Olivia is fighting with the family doctor.
- Boys and their feelings. I mentioned this as a negative for season 1, but the end of Letha’s character caused lots of feelings for Peter and Roman. This is one of the biggest sources of conflict between the guys during this season. They don’t work together. They don’t want to speak to each other or be in the same vicinity. They are very passive aggressive. They’re both dealing with their own crap. I could empathize with why they would be having this conflict, but I found myself just wanting them to get over it, and they eventually do with a fist fight and a threesome. Good times. It was annoying while it lasted.
- Miranda. I found this character incredibly annoying. She bounces between caring about a baby and not caring about a baby, then all of a sudden she cares so much about this baby that she wants to kidnap her from her father and then attempts to kill herself and the baby? Who are you and what gives you the right? It was an all together confusing storyline which leads to…
- The family doctor and his diabolical and confusing scheme. I don’t even.. What? The doctor all of a sudden becomes incredibly shady, says he’s using mind powers to make Miranda lactate, gets in a physical fight with Olivia showing that he has scales under his skin, then turns into a flying bat creature and ends the season flying off into the moonlight. I was so incredibly angry at this development that I wished they hadn’t green lit a season 3.
Once again, there are more negatives, but I’ll stop with the ones I have already written.
Overall, Hemlock Grove is a bit of a mixed bag. I would definitely recommend season 1, but season 2 I would possibly not recommend. The show has a way of seeming like it’s groundbreaking and risqué, while it really isn’t. There are a lot of unnecessary additions, plot holes that are created and then never touched on again, and some dialogue seems forced.
Season 3 was announced a couple of months ago, so I will probably take the time to watch that when it’s released in 2015. That is slated to be the final season, so we’ll see where it goes from here.