TV Picks: Netflix’s Excellent Thriller ‘Bloodline’ One To Watch, Begins March 20
The nuance of storytelling on the smallscreen medium have really changed, with Netflix allowing the end user (you) to stream and binge watch (or at your own pace) in the case of new thriller “Bloodline,” you get 13 episodes of a family drama set in Florida that is both evocative and quite gripping.
The series was created and executive produced by the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated writers/executive producers Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler, who say the show’s origins stem from their own large families, and how siblings’ roles in them are often pre-ordained in childhood. The series stars Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Norbert Leo Butz, Jamie McShane, Jacinda Barrett and Enrique Murciano. The series also includes Chloe Sevigny, Steve Pasquale, Mia Kirshner, and Katie Finneran.
At the past Television Critics’ Association, producer Glenn Kessler shared that Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard were their first picks. “To get them is just extraordinary.” Sissy’s role of Sally is that of a no-nonsense businesswoman who has soft spots for her children. In the patriarch role, Sam’s character of Robert is described as “cold.”
The producers answered questions regarding the caliber of his high octane cast. “We are remarkably fortunate to have the cast assembled that we have. And, you know, from our experience, the three of us, I would say that what we recognize is that the medium, the serialized medium that we are participating in, particularly on Netflix, knowing ahead of time that we were going to have 13 episodes to tell this story, to create characters that really start in one place and have an arc that bring them to a very different place by the end of the season, and to know that when you are able to assemble a cast like this that can do anything you throw at them and elevate it to a whole new level, it seems that that’s a very attractive proposition for people who are who work in a craft at a very high level to be able to be able to play characters that genuinely evolve over a season and to flesh out 360 degrees around these characters. But it’s interesting to hear from the cast because they’ve done it in spectacular fashion this season and is something that we are very excited about.”
On March 20th, Netflix audiences around the world will meet the Rayburns, a contemporary American family who are hard-working pillars of their Florida community. But when the black sheep and eldest son, Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) comes home for the 45th anniversary of his parents’ hotel, he threatens to expose the Rayburns dark secrets and shameful past, pushing his siblings to the limits of family loyalty.
The more isolated small town feel and foreboding various waterscapes and estuaries of Florida make the perfect backdrop for a cast of characters who have secrets.
Daniel Zelman said of his humid and lush locale, “One of the things that there were a few different we came to Florida through a few different routes. One of them is we wanted to put something on television that isn’t on television, a visual landscape that you can’t see anywhere else… the vistas down there and that just incredible turquoise water that goes on forever is just something that we feel isn’t on television. But there was also a sense that we were looking for a place known in their community without being some big, wealthy, sort of dynasty kind of family, just a normal family but known in their community. And the island nature of things down there is such that it’s a very, very small world. And as the season and series progresses, these people do certain things that they would like to run away from. We like the idea of setting the thriller aspect of the show in a place where you can’t really get away from it. Everyone knows you, and so the things that happen in your life are kind of there for everyone to see no matter how hard you try to hide them.”
In “Bloodlines,” there are four adult siblings, with Ben cast as Danny who is the eldest, John, Kevin, and Linda is the youngest, and while the family experiences things in their lives, it is a play in interpretation and how time plays tricks on what is remembered… and what is buried.
Glenn Kessler explained that the hierarchy of family is a universal theme and issue for many families, including his fictional one in “Bloodline.” He said, “The idea that within every family there are roles that people play, and that when you are a young person, those roles most often are defined and then maintain themselves into adulthood and into middle age, and this is a family for whom these roles have not really been explored. And we understand that Ben’s character is the black sheep of the family. We start to understand that these are very simple terms. Because he was the black sheep of the family and because he was in common with Sam Shepard’s character, and events happened within the family at a very young age and started to define people, Kyle’s character, the second oldest son, is thrust into the role of responsible child, and that’s a role that he’s been forced to play his entire life…the idea that people are stuck in these roles, no matter how far away they get from their family, when they return, which is a very universal feeling you come home for Thanksgiving, and someone is treating you in the same way they treated you when you were an adolescent.”
“This is a story about a family who at this point in their lives, in middle age or approaching middle age, those roles are changing, and cracks start to happen, and this is what starts to inform. This is the kind of motor behind the thriller elements of the story. It’s a very to us, it’s a very personal thing. We all play roles within our family, and what happens when you get to a point where you are no longer willing to play those roles? Can the family function and can it survive? And that’s really that is a theme that is personal to us and something we feel is universal as well.”