TV: Sharp Objects - S01 E01 - Reviewed

Before its Sunday night premiere, Sharp Objects had already been compared to HBO’s other female lead drama, Big Little Lies. I get it. Both shows are directed by Jean-Marc VallĂ©e, and both feature female protagonists, but beyond that the comparison is a bit reductive. If one needs to compare the show to anything, I’d say it has more in common with season one of True Detective in terms of style and tone.

Amy Adams stars as Camille Preaker, a reporter dispatched by her boss to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to investigate a recent murder of a young girl, as well as one that is possibly connected from a year ago. The first episode, entitled Vanish, mostly focuses on Camille’s habits – drinking, driving aimlessly into the night and overall self-harm.

Created and written for television by Marti Noxon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, UnREAL) and based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, the first episode unfolds in many ways like a stream of consciousness-type story. The edits are sudden and time jumps are not uncommon. It’s clear from the get go that we’re seeing things from Camille’s perspective. Past and present collide in beautiful shots of flashbacks intersecting with Camille’s current fractured state. Something bad happened here, and I’m not just talking about the murders of two young girls.

The style and overall production design is a character unto itself, managing to make a rundown town beautiful as well as shots of the nearby woods both inviting and haunting. Adams has had many great roles so far in her career and has more than proven herself as one of the best actresses working today. She’s at the top of her game here, giving us just enough to want more without giving too much away.

We’ve been inundated with so many small town murder mystery shows as of late, and the missing and/or possible dead girl trope has managed to become tired. Sharp Objects, if you’ll pardon the phrase, manages to cut through the bullshit and as a result is something altogether different and wonderful. I don’t mean that it is necessarily a “fun” show to watch. Quite the contrary: it’s difficult, but engaging all the way through. It’s a mystery you want to be a part of and follow through to the end, even if you squirm in your seat with discomfort.

We have seven more weeks to see where this goes, but I’m not going anywhere. Sharp Objects is a tour de force for everyone involved, but Adams is especially brilliant. Consider this a whole-hearted endorsement of a brilliant and terrifyingly beautiful work of art.

-Matt Giles