You’re probably going to see a lot of negative reviews for Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove” this weekend… and they’re sort of right. It’s campy, but it doesn’t seem to embrace its camp. The acting is, generally, just… bad. The gore is gratuitous, the dialogue is clunky, and the story is packed with tropes. But all of these things might just be what makes the show work for Netflix.
The series, from Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name and from executive producer Eli Roth, is set in a small town, rocked by a young woman’s brutal murder. The murder coincides with the arrival of gypsy Peter (Landon Liboiron) and his mother Lynda (Lili Taylor).
Spoiler alert: Peter is a werewolf. But it’s not like he’s the only weirdo in town — in the first handful of episodes, we meet a cast of creepy characters, most of them toeing the line between supernatural creature and straight-up crazy person. There’s even a mad scientist doing experiments at a place called Godfrey Enterprises that we’d be willing to bet isn’t exactly above board.
The show definitely wouldn’t lend itself to a normal TV viewing pattern. It moves slowly, and there are so many different storylines going on, it’s hard to become invested in one enough to want to return to the show week after week. But let’s be honest — when a person sits down to watch 13 hours of Netflix, we’re not necessarily looking to be intellectually stimulated. We’re looking to kill a rainy day, or forget a bad breakup, or get a reprieve from CNN. “Hemlock Grove” is perfect for that.
Plus, there’s the added bonus of the Netflix model, which gives us a neatly packaged first season all at once. We don’t have to worry about our questions going unanswered when it’s canceled after six episodes: If you make it to the last episode, you will be rewarded with some degree of closure. Sometimes, that’s all you’re really looking for.