Pros: plot; several storylines; completeness Cons: Renee Zellweger overacts; recurring What/If problems
Creator Mike Kelly
Cast: Renee Zellweger (Anne), Jane Levy (Lisa), Blake Jenner (Sean), Keith Powers (Tod), Samantha Marie Ware (Angela), Juan Castano (Marcos), Saamer Usmani (Avery), Daniella Pineda (Cassidy) and etc.
Year of release 2019
The series follows a young scientist, Lisa (Jane Levy), who founded a company specializing in medical research. She believes she will one day find a cure for lymphocytic leukemia patients like her sister, who died years ago. Now Lisa is on the verge of bankruptcy, so the girl is desperately looking for someone who can finance her business. There is such a person, but this makes the situation even worse.
Ann Montgomery, one of the most ruthless venture investors in San Francisco, contacts Lisa. She offers the girl a deal. If she lets her husband Sean go to Anne for one night, she will receive $80 million. In this case, the spouses must sign a non-disclosure agreement, and if Sean lets slip about what happened behind closed doors, the company goes to Montgomery. From this moment on, a psychological game begins, which, for some unknown reason, Ann decided to start.
In parallel, the series has several more minor lines – the story of a gay couple, as well as the friends of the main characters. In each episode they develop and at some point become autonomous.
What/If showrunner Mike Kelly gained fame thanks to his work on the American series Revenge (aired from 2011 to 2015), which had high television ratings and positive reviews from critics. The success extended only to the first season; from the second to the fourth, the popularity of Revenge dropped significantly. Largely due to the fact that its creators went too far with intrigue and could not stop in time.
In the new project What/If, Kelly repeats exactly the same mistake – the series famously twists the intrigue, hinting that the heroes have many secrets hidden. It is interesting to reveal them exactly until the moment when the plot turns into something like a soap opera. And since this happens very quickly, disappointment comes already in the first episodes. Then it becomes a pity for wasted time. And since he can’t be returned, it’s worth at least finding out what the writers were hiding from us (or not, there won’t be a shock effect anyway).
Naturally, the main bet is on Renee Zellweger – she not only appeared in the Netflix project, but also played a leading role in the series for the first time in her career. Moreover, the actress has never previously portrayed such a negative and cold-blooded character as Anne Montgomery. This stage turned out to be significant for the artist, but not for the audience.
Renée Zellweger (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) tries so hard to portray the femme fatale that she sometimes overacts. Intense glances, thoughtful movements, spectacular gaits – all this turns out somehow forced and unnatural. Sometimes you even worry about Renee, lest she overdo it with her arrogant equanimity. Unfortunately, this is where it fails. Compared to Zellweger, actress Jane Levy, who plays Lisa, looks much more convincing. The same can be said about other actors in the series with less famous names.
The overall premise of What/If is reminiscent of the movie Indecent Proposal, but instead of Robert Redford, it’s Renée Zellweger who is the devious one. Even the characters in one of the episodes talk about the similarity of the situations, but then everything turns out to be much more confusing than in the film of the 90s. And longer. It’s not easy to get through ten episodes, given that they’re filled with repetitive dialogue and family melodrama.
One of the best things about the series is its completeness. For those who have watched all the episodes, clues to the secrets of the main characters await. What/If was called an anthology from the very beginning, so if the project gets a second season, it will feature entirely new characters.
the series about psychological games turned out to be close not to a thriller, but to a soap opera