Oh my God, my wife and I have a new favorite show.
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is a quintessential Netflix show: it came out of nowhere, I’ve never seen anything like it—and it turns out to be awesome.
I love the original Zucker–Abrahams–Zucker productions: Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane! and Police Squad! (Top Secret! is a little flabby but still great).
I mean, genius, right?
But those films were so rapid-fire, anything-goes in their gags that the genre was, in time, coopted by garbage for teenagers—forget the wordplay, give the morons their fart jokes.
I never saw things like the Scary Movies (there were five of them?) and Epic Movie but it seemed like they broke the basic rule: you had to parody things that took themselves seriously in the first place...right?
Enter those cheesy Lifetime movies that have, evidently, become an entire genre in publishing (and some upscale-adjacent movies: Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window). This piece explains them better than I can.
Creators Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson and Larry Dorf, and director Michael Lehmann (Heathers), have made some bold choices in their deadpan send-up of the genre.
Mostly, they play it straight, and cut down the jokes (compared to Airplane!) by something like 80%...
And yet, what can I say, but...“Bingo”!
The show has the narrative spine of a straight-ahead “woman’s thriller,” albeit built on a collection of absurd premises: the wine-addict, casserole-baking housewife in the palatial house (the license plates say New Hampshire but it’s obviously Pasadena); her terror of the rain due to her ludicrous family tragedy; the useless handyman who spends years fixing a single mailbox.
But the tone is first-class serious: the glossy, slick direction and cinematography, the subtle score, the genius casting and performances (Kristen Bell!!!).
And then, just when you’re invested in the serious tone, it just you with a sight gag (the heroine’s bookshelf is filled with “The Girl on the...” novels) or absurd bit of a dialogue—and my wife and I just busted out laughing.
By the way, I really have a wife—this isn’t like a “Mrs. Columbo” situation.
The amazing thing is that we were actually invested in the story: the heroine’s pathos and search for the killer (which has a hilarious revelation).
I mean, it was seriously good.
But goddamn if I don’t hate hoary bullshit, and every five minutes this show just takes out a razor blade and slices the jugular of our incredibly dumb, sentimental, clichéd pop culture.
So God bless this crazy show and its creators. Truly, they have given us a great gift.
I don’t remember the last time I saw a show or movie and thought, “Oh my God, somebody made this just for me.”
I also loved the pointless cliffhanger (with an all-time-great uncredited guest star) that sends up the Flightplan genre (the impossibly disappearing person on an airplane).
If they make another season, I’ll be thrilled—if they don’t, and this is just a dangling piece of malarkey, even better!