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TV Review: “What/If” (2019) ★★


© Netflix

Mike Kelley’s “Revenge” is one of my favorites shows of all time. That’s why when the news broke out him working on another project for Netflix called “What/If”, it made sense for me to get onboard of it as a spectator since I did not expect anything else from him other than another sensational piece. That viewing I anticipated will become even more joyful when Renee Zellweger joined the show. However, after the first fifteen minutes of watching it, I could not believe how utterly unwatchable it was but somehow found myself even more puzzled when I could not take my eyes off it after the season ended.

The show follows a ruthless wealthy woman named Anne Montgomery who literally enjoys destroying lives. But before she finds the most vulnerable one, she toys with it and gets the worst out of them, despite the fact that her victims are genuinely nice human beings. Sean (Blake Jenner) and Lisa Donovan (Jane Levy) are a happily married couple. Seems nothing can stand between them, however, that nothing turns into dust with the appearance of Anne, who offers them a deal they could not refuse, the price which they had no idea, had to be paid dearly.

Lisa is a scientist who owns a company that hopes to create a cure to save many lives. At the stage of her little wish disappearing, Anne invites Sean and Lisa to discuss with them an opportunity. Sean even tells at one point to Lisa, “I will rob a bank if I have to get the needed money for you”, the words that led to Anne’s decision. Maybe Sean does not need to rob a bank after all, but he will have to spend one night at Anne’s premises and if he discusses what happens during that night, Lisa may lose her company. Sean agrees to follow the rule, the rule that eventually will split the couple apart, raise the tension between them, while Anne as a chess player is getting ready for her next move.

No matter how cool it all sounds, “What/If” is one of the most useless series ever appeared. No matter how much I admire Mike Kelley and respect Renee Zellweger, this show never tried to offer a decent performance while the characters themselves were dull, uninteresting, and uninspiring. For instance, why do we need to have characters like Marcos, Todd, or Angela? Not even a single one brings value to the show. As they have their own drama, honestly speaking, that could have been well told in a separate series but not in this one.

As I understand that Mike Kelley tried to create another “Revenge”, however, that target was missed miserably. However, there’s one thing I should note here though, as I understood that the series itself was a complete waste of time, I still could not even stop watching it or skip an episode. Somehow it has that magnetism which the viewer will find fascinating and cool, even though it had nothing to do with intelligence. Maybe that alone made me drop everything and watch it till the end just to see how it all ends. Of course the premise is predictable, however, that fact does not stop to see how far Kelley will go to destroy this series along with actors who more or less looked like they’re confused.

In the end, “What/If” could have been better if it would’ve taken its time, had a better approach and let the actors have their own interpretation of the characters they portrayed. Renee Zellweger perhaps did her best to capture a cold-blooded monster, Anne Montgomery, even though she has never had to deliver a role like this before. Sadly, she was unconvincing like the entire cast while the plot itself could not have been any worse. There are many issues with it, way too many to note all of them here but I do know that some viewers did find it engaging and entertaining. Maybe you will be one of them, I truly hope. After all, without us, there will be no “What/If”. And if there’s no “What/If”, maybe we do not have to guess something we already know – its the biggest failure.

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