Two thrillers ended this week – one about a submarine, the other in a luxury spa. Guess who is hurting the most

I wrote previously that the presence of Nicole Kidman in something is always a sign of quality. It’s an unusual combination: I’m a fan of her judgment rather than her performance style, so while I don’t like watching her very much,
I still watch things because she is in it.

When I wrote this, I was flagging Nine Perfect Strangers as another great series that I wish someone else was the star of. But I have to come back to the subject because I later realized that I was unfair and that I had to apologize. So can I just say, having now seen the whole series: I hate it. I’m sorry I wasted your time. I withdraw all previous recommendations.

It’s not because it’s a spa, however. It’s because a child dies when you don’t expect it. I won’t say more in case you are planning on watching, but I wouldn’t if I were you. It’s another one of those modern series that I think uses child death in a simple and important way, with overwhelmingly insufficient creative justification for its heartbreaking effect on the viewer.

I am three episodes away from Vigil and there are no child deaths yet. In contrast, there is a scene that threatens to kill a child, but an adult dies instead. It is so much better. He grabs you but doesn’t torture you. It’s suspense but it’s not horror.

I can pretty much deal with a dead child as a story from the start. But as a surprise twist in a glossy drama? It’s revolting, it’s pornographic. If a comedy joked on dead children, it would be pilloried and annulled; yet somehow seriously milk the fear and tragedy of this idea until we shiver and cry is celebrated. Nine complete strangers ended up making me feel deeply scared and miserable.

If that’s what you want from TV, it’s always available.


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