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

**
2022

‘…it’s often hard to tell if this is parody, pastiche, or just a bad copycat of the murder-mystery format that’s been bludgeoned to death already….’

Sigh. I’ve almost used my entire word-count, and I’ve only got as far as the title. And yet at least that ridiculous title lands, and the audience will presumably understand that this made-for-Netflix tv show is a parody of films like The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window. That’s helpful, in that with whole episodes going by without anything recognisable as an actual joke, it’s often hard to tell if this is parody, pastiche, or just a bad copycat of the murder-mystery format that’s been bludgeoned to death already.

This IS a Netflix show, so bored housewives, sexual fantasies and chugging down wine are staples; you can’t say that the streaming service don’t know their core audience. Bereaved mother Anna (Kristen Bell) mixes booze with medication, and can’t tell imagination from reality. That’s a problem when hunky Neil (Tom Riley) and his daughter move into the house across the road, but Anna’s casserole-gift advances are cock-blocked by Neil’s air-hostess girlfriend Lisa (Shelley Henning) who Anna sees murdered at her window. Is Neil the killer, or could Anna’s mind be playing tricks on her?

This eight-episode series barely has enough action to cover a 80 minute film; having counted the gags, there’s one every twenty minutes or so. But when they do come, they’re awful; Anna spots Neil carrying what appears to be a body in a bag, but when she challenges him, it turns out to be…a ventriloquist’s dummy! Or the mystery of Anna’s missing daughter is explained by her husband working with cannibalistic serial killers; guess he shouldn’t have enrolled in his workplace’s ‘bring your daughter to work’ day! Them’s the jokes, guys.

Director Michael Lehmann made some funny films back in the day (Heathers, Hudson Hawk), but there’s nothing he can do with such a drastically underwritten show; even with Will Ferrell executive producing, it’s hard to imagine at what point this half-cooked effort was worth putting into production. Bell does what she can, but the solution is mind-numbingly juvenile, and the Glenn Close cameo in the final episode makes zero sense. It’s ironic that Netflix scored a massive hit by repurposing the series You, and yet can’t seem to repeat the black comedy trick themselves; The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window just shows how difficult making good comedy is, merely observing the cliches without a spin, and the whole thing deserves to be swiftly dropped into the streaming equivalent of the bargain bin.

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  1. “…you can’t say that the streaming service don’t know their core audience.” This was mildly amusing. As good as the title is, it looks utterly awful. Look forward to an Inventing Anna review, which I’ll have to watch after they release all of the Marvelous Mrs Maisel…

      • I thought the first two seasons were really, really good. It’s light-hearted, colourful, very quick and witty Jewish humour. Both sets of parents are pieces of genius in terms of character – half the time I think they should just stick them in a room and relax, because they’d find something to argue about.

        Season 3 was still good, but a bit of a downturn, with more money seemingly spent on sets and costumes – only two episodes of season four released so far, so who can judge, but it does feel like the act is beginning to go stale… but if Lenny Bruce makes an appearance this season, all will be forgiven!

  2. You were too kind in your critique, and deadly accurate in your review, especially when you wrote …’a bad copycat of the murder-mystery format that’s been bludgeoned to death’ (with a clown’s ouga horn!). I think that makes your title ‘the insightful man with the plan and the guts to discuss even the most dreadful stuff on the box that passes for entertainment….???’

    • That’s very generous, but I doubt my insights will be rare on this occasion. This really was a terrible show. You’d have to mix medication and wine to enjoy this…still, Inventing Anna is much more what Netflix do well and that’s up next…

    • There does seem to be some debate about the correct spelling, but you really can’t go wrong with an ooga horn…

  3. This sounded a clinker from the off especially as Woman in the Window was a huge flop. Who does a spoof on a flop for goodness sake? High Anxiety closed the book on that kind of spoof.

  4. I haven’t watched any of the movies or read the books, that the title appears to be having fun with, so I’m not sure I’d get what little humor there is. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience you mention.

    That is one ugly sweater though! I never knew a plain solid colored sweater could be that bad.

  5. I haven’t seen any of the The Girl Ins or Women ins so the parody would be lost on me anyway. This sounds pretty S H one T even with wine on board. Looking forward to watching Inventing Anna whwn I’ve finished the Ozarks.

    • If they ever release the final episode of Ozark, which seems to be taking so long I’ll have forgotten the show by the time it appears. Inventing Anna is good, much better example of what Netflix can do…

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