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Review: The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window isn’t afraid to get silly

Production still from The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window
Kristen Bell leads Netflix’s latest limited series. Pic credit: Netflix

Instagram sleuthing, a paranoid woman, and tons and tons of wine, Netflix’s newest limited series The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window is nothing but unadulterated fun.

Over eight episodes, the show never manages to dissolve into absolute madness, but it also doesn’t fail to be engaging and entertaining. It’s the thin line between brilliant absurdity and heartbreaking earnestness that keeps this soapy drama going. The series follows Kristen Bell as Anna, an upper-class painter and wine-guzzling divorcee. She has suffered the immeasurable loss of her daughter and has holed herself away from her community as a result of it.

However, Anna still seems to have access to a reliable support system and endless amounts of wealth. The painter finds herself reguarly mixing her prescription drugs with a dangerous amount of wine as she spends her nights sitting by her window and peering into the houses of her neighbors — a friendly homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

The series was created by Nobodies creators Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson (Robot Chicken) and Larry Dorf, and is produced by the trio, plus Bell, and comedian Will Ferrell.

What is The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window about?

The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window follows Anna as she inserts herself into a nearby murder investigation that was first brought to the detectives by her own witnessing. Despite their discouragement, she finds herself digging deeper and deeper into the lives of the victims and possible assailants.

The protagonist lives in a rich, suburban neighborhood filled with the most peculiar personality types. Early on, viewers are introduced to her annoying neighbor Carol (Brenda Koo) who does nothing but obsess over her husband Scott and deliver backhanded insults at the grieving widow. Then there’s the dimwitted handyman Buell (Cameron Britton). He’s been making repairs in Anna’s house for years, even before the tragic loss of her daughter. And her nosey but lovable best friend Sloane (Mary Holland), Anna’s best confidant and supporter.

Lastly, there is the father-daughter duo Neill (Tom Riley) and Emma (Samsara Yett). The two move into the neighborhood at the beginning of the series and Anna is instantly drawn to the family — both by Emma’s resemblance to her own daughter and Neil’s attractive looks. But she’s quickly thrown off-kilter when it’s revealed thatNeil has a long-term girlfriend, the seemingly-perfect Lisa (Shelley Hennig).

Lisa’s absence during the move is chalked up to her being a flight attendant, although viewers are instantly taught to be skeptical of her as she is seen sabotaging Anna’s harmless attempt to get closer to Emma.

Anna finds herself obsessing over the arrival of Lisa and begins to do some online stalking. One night, when she’s drinking and popping pills, against her doctor’s prevailing advice to not do so because it causes hallucinations, Anna witnesses the gruesome murder of the other woman. She instantly alerts the authorities, to the anger of Neil, and finds herself approaching this crime from a variety of angles.

As the series plays on, the viewers find themselves questioning the innocence of every character that’s introduced, despite how trustworthy they seem at the surface. It quickly becomes the question of: Did Neil murder his wife? Or is this all in Anna’s head?

Is it worth a stream?

While the synopsis of the show seems to follow an overstated formula, The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window satirizes the genre and isn’t afraid to get a little silly — for instance, there’s a ridiculous subplot about a cannibal serial killer.

This series is a tropefest that’s not afraid of being nonsensical, absurd fun. It’s a show that one can’t go into too seriously, as it doesn’t allow for it. It’s filled with senseless chatter, disguised as profound dialogue, and plotlines that are never fully fleshed out.

While Bell’s narration is an exciting callback to her Veronica Mars and Gossip Girl days, if one really tunes into the words being said, they’ll find that it’s a-whole-lot of nothing. In one emotional scene, Bell crones, “When your past is so present, how can there be a future? You’re just stuck in the past with your past.”

The reason why this show works so brilliantly is because of its format, it consists of eight episodes, all under 30 minutes. In less than four hours, the audience will find themselves going on a trip that doesn’t really warrant any answers, but due to its quirkiness and unreliable narrator, any answers found along the way are absolute treats.

The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window is currently streaming on Netflix.

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