In the world of original programming, Netflix has been on the ball lately. Whether it’s brand-new TV such as “House of Cards,” “Orange is The New Black” or “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” or its resurrection of previous shows in order to give their fans a chance to say goodbye—like “The Killing” and “Longmire”—the team at Netflix seems to be making all the right decisions. With its latest release direct-to-streaming, it looks like they’ve got another hit in “Bloodline,” a show that’s been coined a “family noir” drama set in the Florida Keys.
While critics were originally given only the first three episodes to watch, Netflix released the entire season for subscribers. That might explain why most reviews were mixed to positive—but on the other hand, the show’s already been renewed for a second season, so it sounds like the fan appreciation has been vocal enough to motivate Netflix to bring back more. If you’re still waffling over whether or not to check out the show for yourself, here are just a few reasons why it’s worth the watch.
The cast consists of an amazing group of names
As you settle in to watch the opening credits alone, the first impression you get (aside from the lilting music) is just how many impressive actors are working together to bring this show to life. The Rayburn family is portrayed by some of the greats, including Sissy Spacek as the hopeful matriarch who occasionally turns a blind eye, Sam Shepard as the father of the Rayburn clan, Linda Cardellini as the responsible younger daughter and Norbert Leo Butz in a strikingly serious role as the hotheaded little brother. Rounding out the Rayburn family are undeniable powerhouses of acting ability—Kyle Chandler as family caretaker and local sheriff John Rayburn and Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn, the eldest son and black sheep of the family. There’s also strong supporting cast members such as Chloë Sevigny and Jacinda Barrett. It’s what each actor brings to the table—raw, undeniable talent—that makes this a show to tune into.
The setting is completely immersive
Filmed on location in the Florida Keys, the town of Islamorada is like another character in the show. It’s a gorgeous natural location, and you’ll be itching to take a trip down south and walk on the beaches—but it also betrays some of the darker happenings that go on. It’s a reminder that even the most beautiful places harbor some pretty nasty secrets. The show was also filmed in the summer—a season that can be fairly brutal at times, but the show’s creators didn’t want to shy away from making everyone look too flawless by Hollywood’s standards. If the weather’s hot, people are going to be sweating from the humidity—and it creates another layer of realism when you notice everyone’s a little more… dewy.
The show’s creators already have a great show under their belt
If you’re not familiar with the names Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler and Todd A. Kessler, you should be. Not only are they the ones responsible for bringing “Bloodline” to the screen, they were also the team behind the amazing legal thriller “Damages,” starring Rose Byrne and Glenn Close. Watching the two shows, you notice common storytelling threads between the both of them—like the reveal of information in bits and pieces as opposed to a linear narrative. Some episodes may start out with a jump forward to a point several weeks in the future before rewinding back, where it’s the viewer’s job to figure out how the characters will get to that place. That’s one of the things “Damages” was great at—and one of the techniques that “Bloodline“ hinges on. How does everything go so badly for the Rayburns? It’s just a matter of wait-and-see.
The plot is a slow burn, but it’s worth sticking around for
This show isn’t an action ride, nor is it one that throws ton of information at its audience and expects it to keep up. Characters’ backstories are revealed slowly and over time. We aren’t necessarily going to get someone’s name right away; we might have to wade through several scenes before we find out a detail like that. It’s something that might turn off TV viewers who are used to the traditional method of a breakneck pacing, but for this show? It works. It means that when something dramatic finally does happen, it packs more of a visceral punch than if it were the latest in a series of big reveals. It also means that this is not the kind of show you can watch in the background while you’re doing something else, because you might miss out on information that could be important later on. As far as “Bloodline” is concerned, everything is connected, and all the loose ends will be tied up sooner or later.
No one is completely good or evil
When it comes to the Rayburn family and the supporting characters, everyone is at least several shades of gray. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet that they’d prefer no one else find out about—an affair, an abusive past or maybe some criminal activity. It’s what each person will or won’t do to prevent those secrets from getting out that really serves as a glimpse into their true nature. “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing,” says John Rayburn, in a line that’s become the official tagline for the show. The Rayburns might not be viewed by the rest of the world as bad folk, but there’s no denying that each one of them has acted out of selfish desires—and it’s unclear whether or not the results of those actions will eventually resurface.
“It feels like you’re banishing us from paradise,” a guest at the Rayburn House says to Mama Rayburn as they prepare to leave the Keys. Judging by the darkness that lurks beneath the bright sun and the warm sand beaches, however, maybe it’s best they get out of town sooner rather than later.
Check out “Bloodline“ available on Netflix streaming now—and get ready for a second season which has been announced to premiere in 2016.
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