“Clickbait” is a reminder of why the Netflix sequence grew to become such hits within the first place. A solid of recognizable, serviceable actors dive with melodrama and zeal right into a narrative that defies logical sense however strikes at a breakneck tempo, ends on cliffhangers like clockwork, and incorporates simply sufficient zigs and zags to maintain viewers guessing. The miniseries’ title is correct sufficient: “Clickbait” grabs you, whizzes you alongside, and leaves you feeling happy earlier than you overlook all the things you simply watched. It’s not refined, however, it’s extremely bingeable, and its eight episodes are persistently outlandish sufficient to maintain your watching.
The miniseries from Australian creators Tony Ayres (whose title it’s possible you’ll acknowledge as being affiliated with one other buzzy, goofy present referred to as “The Slap”) and Christian White follows a household caught up in a weird, only-of-this-moment thriller. Husband, father, brother, and son Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) seems in the future in a viral video, holding a sequence of indicators that say “I ABUSE WOMEN” and “AT 5 MILLION VIEWS, I DIE.” The video burns by way of the Web, amassing hundreds of clicks in minutes, taking on information networks, and changing into the one factor anybody is watching on their telephones, tablets, computer systems, or TVs.
Who’s Nick Brewer? “Clickbait” assaults that query from two completely different angles. First consideration goes to Nick’s household: his shocked and enraged sister Pia (Zoe Kazan) and mom Andrea (Elizabeth Alexander), and his numb and confused spouse Sophie (Betty Gabriel) and their two sons Ethan (Camaron Engels) and Kai (Jaylin Fletcher). The Brewers dwell in a small Oakland group the place everybody appears to know everybody, and shortly what is going on to Nick takes over their lives. Sophie’s schoolteacher colleagues whisper after her; Ethan and Kai’s classmates activate them, and reporters camp out exterior their home. And the query nobody can reply to is: Why would this occur to Nick? Or, on the flip aspect: What did Nick do to make this occur?
The spontaneous, impulsive Pia, whom Kazan permeates with jittery vitality, refuses to face apart and await the police to do their jobs. “This video will not be a confession. It’s a demise risk,” she says, and she or he turns to hacker pal Vince (Jack Walton) to look into Nick’s online life and assist her to examine her personal. Her different ally is Detective Roshan Amiri (Phoenix Raei), a lacking individuals detective determined to show himself and earn promotion into murder. As they pursue numerous leads—was Nick seen someplace; the place has been the movies of him filmed; did he disappear on the best way to work?—they tumble down a rabbit gap that means Nick wasn’t the loving household man he gave the impression to be. One relationship app profile seems, then one other, and one other. With Nick kidnapped and unable to talk for himself, it’s as much as his relations and the others concerned in his case to try to piece collectively who Nick actually was.
Every one of the eight episodes of “Clickbait” focuses on a distinct character, with episode titles like “The Sister,” “The Detective,” and “The Spouse.” First up is Pia, who takes all the things personally and who feels responsible about her final interplay with Nick. Subsequent is Sophie, who has a secret of her personal and is attempting to carry the household collectively. Afterward are Ethan and Kai, who concern the worst however whose lives spent totally on social media give them a distinct, practically symbiotic, relationship with what is going on to their father. And Roshan and journalist Ben Park (Abraham Lim), who see on this case a chance to advance their careers, additionally get their very own standalone episodes—and their decisions function as a commentary on the very “clickbait” nature of the present’s content material.
That shift in perspective per installment isn’t so drastic that the “reality” of occasions modifications from individual to individual, and that restraint is the best alternative. “Clickbait” is already so reliant on jarring narrative reveals (usually complemented by Kazan’s stricken, mouth-agape face) that experimenting with subjectivity vs. objectivity would have been an excessive amount of. As a substitute, every targeted chapter permits a peek into characters’ inside lives. The actors seize onto these alternatives and dash ahead, and the sequence advantages from their lack of artifice.
Kazan is the sequence’s anchor because of the brash Pia, all contemptuous vitality, responsible glares, and stomping strides, and she or he sparks nicely in opposition to Gabriel’s Sophie, who’s extra contained and constrained. “Clickbait” makes an attempt to make some extent about how the white Pia might be hysterical in a manner that the Black Sophie can’t, and though the sequence doesn’t take the concept fairly far sufficient, at the least it raises it. The identical nod of acknowledgment applies to Roshan’s homelife, which incorporates his household talking Persian and Roshan’s time praying at a mosque. It’s depressingly uncommon in Hollywood for an actor of Iranian descent to play a personality of Iranian descent who isn’t a terrorist, and Raei has the proper of bearing to fall into pretty good-looking, barely smarmy cop roles. Is there a “Legislation and Order” spinoff that wants a brand new detective? Raei might work!
Do any of those performances point out murky depths or hidden layers? Not likely. Whether or not within the current time interval or in flashbacks, the writing doesn’t enable for a ton of tangibly constructed backstory, and there are a couple of scenes sprinkled all through (particularly within the fourth episode) that play a bit an excessive amount of with the “actual” world vs. the persona we domesticate on-line. And a few characters really feel underwritten, particularly Ethan and Kai, who the sequence treats extra as inconveniences than official narrative issues.
For probably the most half, although, the ensemble’s work feels pressing and within the second, and that issues for a sequence like this. Finally, “Clickbait” doesn’t say something singular concerning the anonymity of the Web, and it flirts with loads of large concepts it doesn’t pursue as vigorously because it might have: how the group of chat rooms and message boards can result in insularity and paranoia; the disposability of hookup tradition and the best way poisonous masculinity can manifest inside it; and the aforementioned distinction in how the media treats folks of various races. However, a present that went down these roads wouldn’t have been “Clickbait,” and likewise most likely wouldn’t have been this foolish or low-brow entertaining.