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TV Review: “Defending Jacob” (2020) ★★★★


How much do we know about the people we live with under the same roof? Do we trust them completely or not? Can we be sure that there’s nothing damning about them? You may find those types of questions too complicated or even confusing, but in reality, it all comes to one point – no matter what, each day brings something new. And one of those new days can be so devastating, we would wish to have delayed it forever.

The Barber family is an epitome of perfection. Andy Barber (Chris Evans) is a dream husband and a smart and respected assistant district attorney. Laurie Barber (Michelle Dockery) is a beautiful woman and caring wife who raises their fourteen-year-old son, Jacob. It seems like the ideal family with no dark stains until the moment when the murder of Ben Ritkin occurs. As the investigation is in full speed and overseen by Andy Barber himself, the Barbers’ life will turn upside down when Jacob, their beloved son, becomes the primary and only suspect in the brutal murder. As the couple scramble to keep the family together and their sanity intact, the biggest question remains unanswered – will there be a need for defending Jacob, or is he really guilty as charged?

Based on the novel of the same name by William Landay, “Defending Jacob” begins with the already former assistant district attorney, Andy Barber, being questioned by Neil Loguidice (Pablo Schreiber). As the trial continues, we learn the most important thing about Andy when he explains why he agreed to be questioned, “Because I believe in the system,” the already sad and visibly shocked man says. As we are taken back in time, we meet Jacob, a seemingly ordinary boy with ordinary needs. There is nothing suspicious about him nor unwelcoming. However, there was something he wanted to say to his dad over the phone, but at the last minute, he decides to keep it to himself.

But when school is on lockdown, Jacob, scared to death, calls his father only to be assured that there is no active case in school, not realizing that there is actually one occurring right outside of it. As we are offered many details to begin analyzing, we see how Andy and Laurie try to defend their son. However, when the dark past of Andy is being revealed, it appears that even Jacob’s mother begins realizing that maybe there were signs back when Jacob was too little which they missed and that had brought them to this situation – where he finds himself a step away from spending his life in prison.

Created by Mark Bomback, “Defending Jacob” is a slow-burning drama told in the format of mini-series that cannot be missed. Apart from an excellent performance by the entire cast including Jaeden Martell as the innocent child Jacob Barber, Chris Evans as Andy Barber, and Michelle Dockery as Laurie Barber, the storytelling itself is brilliant from start to end. The first episode is as intense as it could get. Overall, the structure of this series is of top-level, proving once again the ability of TV to tackle a difficult concept that’s way better done than the bigger screen. This exceptional thriller, “Defending Jacob”, is surely one of them.

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