When it comes to creating characters, the easy path is to go with the well worn 2D model. The harder path is to subvert the audience’s expectations by flipping those characters on their heads.
The setup of Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel, Behind Her Eyes, is a love triangle. Louise is a single, working mother who meets David on a night out. The night ends with a kiss that gives her hope that there is a romantic future after divorce. The next day, she nearly runs over Adele, who is new in town. What starts out as getting together for coffee turns into a friendship. But Adele is married to David, who is Louise’s new boss.
The only word to describe what Louise is about to get into is trouble.
The only word to describe this book is wow. Pinborough is part author and part magician. She makes us think that we know how the story will end. But the card she has in her left hand is completely unexpected and jaw dropping. From a feminist angle, I appreciated the shades of grey that she injected into her narrative. Normally the center of a love triangle in a heterosexual relationship is a woman with a man at each end. The inversion is not just the gender of the leads, but the portrayal of the women. Louise is not just the bad girl homewrecker. Adele is much more than the good little wife, waiting for David to come home at the end of the day.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
P.S. I also highly recommend the Netflix adaptation. It is as good, if not better than it’s literary predecessor.
March is Women’s History Month. This year, I would like to shine a spotlight on some of the female characters who both push against the glass ceiling and inspire us.
Behind Her Eyes (Netflix): It would have been easy to peg Adele (Eve Hewson) as the wronged wife and Louise (Simona Brown) as a modern version of Glenn Close’s character from Fatal Attraction. But both women are given the opportunity to be fully fledged characters that go well beyond the stereotypes.
Bridgerton (Netflix): For non-fans of the BPD (British Period Drama), Bridgerton would just another Jane Austen-ish historical romance/drama. But fans know that though women are second class citizens in this world, they have other abilities that are not obvious to the naked eye. My favorite characters are Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) and Lady Danbury (Adjoah Andoh). Instead of mindlessly following in her elder sister’s footsteps, Eloise would love to be free of the constrictions that women are placed under in the 19th century. For her part, Lady Danbury is a badass who knows of her place in society and uses her experiences wisely.
WandaVision (DisneyPlus): Every female character in this series is fully formed. As we learn more about this world and the women who inhabit it, their humanity is revealed in a manner that is normal and natural. They are allowed to be who they are without being pegged as certain character types and forced into boxes that can be easily checked off.
P.S. That series finale last night was nothing short of mind blowing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready for season 2.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC): For a television show to last twenty plus years, it has to have a certain something about it. In a nutshell, what makes it stand out is the difficult subject the show brings to the forefront and the capable female detectives whose job it is to solve the crimes. At the head of the unit is Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Though she has been working sex crimes for decades, the job has not hardened her. She can be tough when she has to be, but she can also be compassion and humane. Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) has fought against her demons and survived. That alone is worth its weight in gold. The newest and youngest member of the squad is Katriona Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder). Though she still has a lot to learn, she has the passion and the drive to bring the criminals to justice.
Readers, what other female characters inspire you? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.
Warning: This post contains spoilers about the Netflix series, Behind Her Eyes. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it in full.
The mingling of genres takes a skilled writer. There are two equally important aspects of being able to accomplish this successfully. The first is choosing the right genres. The second is making sure that each of them is given their due while ensuring that they come together at the right moment in the narrative.
One of the newest Netflix series is Behind Her Eyes. It tells the story of a twisted love triangle with Louise (Simona Brown) at the center. At one end is her new friend Adele (Eve Hewson). At the other end is Adele’s husband, David (Tom Bateman), who is Louise’s boss and new lover. It is part psychological thriller, part jealous spouse, and just a little bit of science fiction/fantasy to make it very interesting.
My jaw dropped by the time the credits rolled after the final episode.
I loved the inclusion of Adele’s ability to use astral projection to leave her body. I don’t read or watch many psychological thrillers, but as I understand it, this particular story thread is not often used in this genre. But that is not the twist. The twist comes from Adele’s friend, Rob (Robert Aramayo). He is the master manipulator who is so under the radar that it is impossible to see the ending coming.
Kudos to the author and the screenwriter. If only every story was as good as Behind Her Eyes.
I would love to say that every marriage is a perfect vision of happily ever after. But we all know that some marriages are complicated, to say the least.
The new Netflix mini-series, Behind Her Eyes, based on the book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough, premiered last week. Louise (Simona Brown) is a single, divorced mother who works at a psychiatry office three days a week. She was supposed to have a girls night out with a friend at a local bar. But when her friend does not show up, she starts up a conversation with David (Tom Bateman). What starts with a brief flirtation ends with a kiss. But before it can go any further, he makes his excuses and walks away.
The next day, David and Louise meet up again. The sizzling attraction from the night before has not dissipated. But he is her new boss, making any relationship other than a profession one impossible. He is also married to Adele (Eve Hewson), who has a complicated past. Then Louise and Adele bump into each other and become friends. Though David and Adele project the image of a picture perfect marriage, their relationship is not so perfect.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes. I also have yet to read the book. But so far, I am enjoying this not so simple love triangle with three characters, who each in their own way, are damaged.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Behind Her Eyes is available for streaming on Netflix.