Reviews May/June 2024

06 May 2024


Apples Never Fall 
Starring Allison Brie, Jake Lacy, Annette Bening •
Peacock Three Stars 

Being a fan of author Lynn Moriarty’s book-to-TV adaptations—HBO’s Big Little Lies and the less-amazing-but-still-enjoyable Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu—I knew I was going to give her latest, now on Peacock, a try. Of course, I first had to squelch my HBO snobbery and the doubt that a newer, less popular service like Peacock would create an original series worth my time. Seven episodes later, I must report there’s a few bad apples inside this barrel…but it might not be completely spoiled. 

Fans of Man Men will be delighted to see Allison Brie (Pete Cambell’s strong-willed wife, Trudy Campbell) playing eldest child Amy Delaney—until they realize Amy is the least interesting character of the Delaney crew. Far more intriguing are the three other kids, Logan, Booke and Troy, who harbor more secrets than their free-spirited sister. The seven-episode miniseries starts with a pilot introducing the family and their mystery: Matriarch Joy Delaney has vanished and is presumed to be dead. Right from the beginning of the show, we see her children have a fierce devotion to her—and a lot of bitterness teetering towards hatred for their father, Stan. 

The show then sets up the next six episodes, all named after a family member and focused on their point of view, to solve the mystery. Did Stan murder his wife in a fit of rage? Was it their strange (but culinarily gifted) houseguest, Savannah? I plowed through the whole miniseries like the show was a beach novel, mediocrely written but you just want to see what happens. 

While there are a few surprises as far as secrets of characters being revealed, the failing of Apples Never Fall is in the lack of the darkness required if you thought your father killed your mother. Sure, Stan is a jerk on the tennis court, and he has moments of nasty aggression—but the show really misses the mark on depicting his children’s horror, anguish and fear. Without that emotional depth, this is not a truly great piece of television. 

But perhaps truly great television is not the point here. With the glut of modern streaming options, we always hope for the best from all the competition. But 30 years ago, it was typical to have low-quality, soapy TV as part of the rotation—you know, with laugh tracks, bad music and a simple-enough conclusion to make viewers feel smart. While Apples Never Fall is too dramatic for laugh tracks, the cheesy background music and the not-so-shocking moment of truth have solidified this one as an easy, breezy, perhaps forgettable watch. 

Cowboy Carter 
I’ve probably confessed this in my column before, but I have never been a fan of Beyonce, at least not since Destiny’s Child—I’m a 90s kid, after all. Sure, she’s always had a beautiful voice, but her overproduced pop never did it for me. Until now. Her new country album, Cowboy Carter, has me reconsidering Queen Bey. Singles like “Daughter” and “Texas Hold Em” on this surprising new record have allowed me to see Beyonce for the versatile entertainer she is. I’m not saying I’ll join the hive at this point, but I can at least understand the buzz. 

As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again
The Decemberists have released their first album in six years, and let’s just say the title fits. The lyrics-forward, melodic work of this band is the same as ever, and that’s not exactly a bad thing given the current instability of our world. Songs like “Burial Ground” and “Joan in the Garden” (a whopping 19 minutes of atmospheric bliss) are reminiscent of all our favorite indie tunes from years back. Could they have gotten more creative with their sound? Yes. But are we all secretly pining for a bygone era? Also yes. 

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