I think my husband and I didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we started watching the Netflix original drama-thriller “Bloodline.” Mostly, I think we decided to give it a whirl because Kyle Chandler, the dad/coach from “Friday Night Lights” was the star. We’d liked that show quite a bit and considered him a pretty good actor; “Bloodline” looked at least mildly interesting, so what the heck, we decided to try it. We had no idea how dark and twisty a story we were about to enter.
The description of the show on Netflix is fairly vague, something about a close-knit family hiding a dark secret. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than that.
Kyle Chandler’s character, John Rayburn, is a detective in his home town in the Florida Keys, where his parents run an ocean-front inn. He has three adult siblings, one of whom is a rather dead-beat, black sheep type. During their childhood/adolescence, someone in the family did something rather terrible, and that terrible something has cast a shadow over them all, even as they have lied about it, covered it up, and swept it under the carpet.
But because of that shadow and the effects it has had particularly on the black sheep brother, some of the siblings end up doing some additional terrible things, now that they are all adults. And the web of secrets and lies only grows more complex from there.
The High Points
This show is very well-made. Probably helps that the budget was rather astronomical, according to Wikipedia.
But it’s not just the production value. The acting is top notch, and the story is especially strong. This is the type of show where you simply must know what happens next. The type of show where, often, as the credits started rolling at the end of the episode, my husband and I said to each other, “What!” And we had to start watching the next episode.
“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing…”
That’s the show’s tagline, and boy does it fit.
After we’d finished the series, I remarked to my husband that, really, the family in this show reminded me of what a certain real life family that I know (probably lots of real-life families, if we’re being honest…) would be like if they didn’t have God. On the surface, they are tight-knit, loving even; but their secrets, grudges, and brokenness drive them to do things that seem, to me, to be the natural culmination of such pain when God is not in the equation.
These characters are not downright evil, villainous people. Instead, they are weak, flawed, and fallen, allowing themselves to become more and more entangled in the consequences of their “bad thing.”
This show gets to be a little much, especially toward the end (the third and final season just came out on Netflix). I’m not typically a proponent of binge-watching in general, for reasons I discuss here, but this show in particular is one that you might not want to watch in large doses. Because the buildup of sin upon sin and the guilt these characters start to feel because of it can really start to drag a viewer down.
And yet, there’s value here. Morally speaking.
This show acknowledges sin in a way I haven’t really seen on TV before. The characters’ descent into terrible acts actually begins gradually, when one of them starts to harbor terrible thoughts about someone and essentially commits a terrible act in his heart; this then leads to him committing it in reality.
The characters look guilt straight in the eye. Some of them waver back and forth between defending their actions and becoming so desolate over what they’ve done that they want do drastic things to right it. In the end, all of them end up dealing with the consequences of their actions differently, but all of them do end up suffering in some way specifically because of what they’ve done.
There’s actually even a nod to confession in the third season, but unfortunately things start to get a little murky around that point because the character who confesses seems to be hazy on what the sacrament actually means; and the message about the need for confession is at one point delivered by a guy who used to be a super bad dude and now seems to have kind of lost his mind. So that’s unfortunate, but we do at least get to see a priest giving a really accurate, succinct description of how God forgives through the sacrament.
The Other Moral Issues
This is a pretty mature show. There is actually a car sex scene near the beginning of the first episode (we fast-forwarded, but I don’t think it was extremely graphic…) that almost made us turn it off, but we decided to give it some more time. Often, we’ve found that a sex scene in the first few minutes sets the tone for an entire series, but that was definitely not the case with this show. There were very few additional sex scenes in the entire series, though there were some implied sexual encounters and very occasional nudity.
Other issues include a good amount of profanity and some violence.
This show is likely to get you hooked. Over all, it’s fairly worthwhile, but beware of how dark it is and perhaps take an occasional break for a movie night or a for good clean sitcom like Speechless.
On the whole, though, good show, Netflix. Good show.