06 March 2022

TWITHATSFTGITW


Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window

It sounds like an answer sheet absent punctuation from a John Floyd quiz. Instead, it’s the title of a Netflix series. Although I dodged it for a while, I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into.

(As long as we’re mentioning quizzes, if you’ve seen the series, what are some of the novels and movies they’re parodying?)

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It began with Jimmy Stewart’s spying-out-the-window genre perfected by Hitchcock. You know the one, Perry-Mason-gone bad, often mimicked, never equaled. But perfection doesn’t stop writers and movie-makers from trying.

TWITHATSFTGITW parodies the many novels turned into made-for-TV movies. Kristen Bell plays Anna, an alcoholic Veronica Mars. She embraces the rĂ´le seriously and she makes it work. The characters, the writers, the directors… they make the result hilarious. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but an appreciation of the craft and the skewering of tropes that just… (stab) won’t… (stab) die.

Mailbox Technologist
Mailbox Technologist

And yet, the series is controversial. One (amateur?) movie reviewer hated it intensely, calling it immoral, foul, and raged about rampant nudity throughout, including “shirtless men, women in undergarments.” (gasp!) I vaguely recall one scene with nudity, but most of the outrage came from those who didn’t understand it was a parody. Sheesh, folks. Read the fourteen word title! (An exception was Yahoo’s critic– bless her candor– who admitted up front it took her several episodes before she caught on, and then she liked it.)

Let’s just say I figured out the murderer, more a guess than a deduction because I was getting into the twisted minds of the show runners. That penultimate scene broke a major rule of mystery writing. And I think it was episode 3 that didn’t merely shatter a similar rule, it crushed it, crumbled it, pulverized it, demolecularized and obliterated it. Even my bent sense of humor went, “I don’t believe they did that.” And yet, it was perfect, absurdly perfect.

Setting aside the torch I carry for Veronica Mars, my favorite character was the mailbox technologist who, day after day, wrestled to get it working right, even entirely dismantling it to start all over. It’s one of those sly bits along with the novels Anna reads, like The Woman Across the Lake, and that Anna has poured so much wine, she can brim a glass to the very drop.

I can’t reveal more except to say by the end of the show, she gives up wine.

For vodka.

Quiz Answers

Not counting the granddaddy of the subgenera, The Rear Window, what are some of the novels and movies TWITHATSFTGITW parodied? These are suggestions mostly from The Independent:

Kristin Bell and Jameela Jamil
Kristin Bell and Jameela Jamil
  • The Woman in the Window
  • The Exorcist
  • Copycat
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Final Analysis
  • Flightplan
  • The Girl on the Train
  • The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

What do you think?


Okay, okay, so Jameela Jamil made my heart pound and my blood pulse in The Good Place. Or the Bad Place. It was the script, see. Yeah, the script.

10 comments:

  1. I miss Veronica Mars. I haven't watched or plan to watch the fourth season on Hulu because I heard what they did in the end. Nope. I consider that a bad dream.

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    Replies
    1. Yikes! Barb, I never saw the ending nor know what happened– no television. I saw a few episodes with nieces, and liked the character and her relationship with her father. From what you say, it doesn't sound like I should catch up.

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    2. You definitely should watch all of the three seasons that ran on network TV. They were amazing.

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  2. I haven't watched, but I'm guessing The Girl in the Green Raincoat belongs on the list, too.

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    Replies
    1. Steve, I haven't seen/read that, but it has that 'sound' to it. Thanks.

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    2. A Laura Lippman book from a few years back...

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  3. Now, very interesting. I did see the first few episodes of the show, understanding that it was a parody, and enjoying it because I absolutely loathe the kind of domestic noir/neurotic unreliable protagonist books that they are skewering. But then when they got to the reason the daughter died...okay, that went too far and wasn't funny, I thought. So my take (totally individual I admit, although my man thought the same) is that it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in that the first chapter was absolutely wild and hilarious, but the joke got stale after a while. Interested to know if anyone else felt that.

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    Replies
    1. That is hilarious, Melodie. I can see it as a captive tagline: "Elizabeth Bennett, pickled in alcohol, half dead, only half alive."

      It's definitely dark, post-collegiate humour. Yes, you nailed the crux of the issue. My mind tends to rush ahead, so I was thinking, 'They would do that, would they? Nah…" For a moment, I wondered if they'd flip the situation, if you follow me. But then, "Oh no, they did it!"

      You touch upon a Prime/Netflix problem. Many of these series commit to 8 episodes, i.e, six hours of programming, but they have little more than two hours of material. The sole scene I remember with nudity, the love-making scene, isn't memorable is that it felt like filler. And Bell's other recent work, The Good Place, after two seasons the cast must have been thinking, "All right, already."

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  4. Just haven't watched it yet.

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    Replies
    1. After reading my article, a friend surprised me when she said she might enjoy it. Her daughter is the one with dark humor, one of the gentlest, kindest people I know, Eve. Funny how that works out sometimes.

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