Friday , March 1 2024
Kiernan Shipka, Swimming With Sharks, Roku
Kiernan Shipka in 'Swimming With Sharks' (courtesy of the film) on Roku April

SXSW TV Review: ‘Swimming With Sharks’

Swimming With Sharks, a TV series of six half-hour episodes, will air on the Roku channel in April. Written and showrun by Kathleen Robertson and directed by Tucker Gates, the series focuses on Hollywood’s seamy, cutthroat glamor. Interestingly, Kiernan Shipka and Diane Kruger, consummate actors, face off in the lead roles. Also, Erica Alexander, Ross Butler, Thomas Dekker, Finn Jones and Gerardo Celasco are various pilot fish. Finally, the great white shark, Donald Sutherland, shows his foreboding dorsal fin.

A Hollywood Psychological Drama – Minus the Humor

Initially, central character Lou Simms (Shipka) introduces the themes. The opening sequence, a retro/present Hollywood montage, affirms the setting as full frontal in her pert voice-over backdrop. Indeed, in her commentary the 20-something tips her hand about who and what she represents. Also, her monologue intimates the arc of development.

Through strategic flashbacks, Robertson identifies Lou’s ambition. Understandably, Lou’s focus suggests she craves power. Thus, we see that her submerged character traits run counter to the wide-eyed, obedient, slavish intern of Fountain Pictures. Yet, the “intrigue” of this series focuses on Lou’s dualism. Her desire to emulate the brutal CEO of Fountain Pictures, Joyce Holt (Kruger), drives the plot.

Thus, when Holt can’t secure power player Meredith (Alexander) in a deal, Lou’s instinct goes “in for the kill.” With dedication she assists Holt and the flagging Fountain Pictures. Robertson provides a pleasant twist on Lou’s coup and the machinations that follow.

Like her idol Holt, Lou is pointedly Machiavellian. The “fascinating” overriding concept in Swimming With Sharks reveals competitiveness among all the fish. However, fish are not the only creatures that swim in the seas. Unfortunately, the mammals can’t be found anywhere in Hollywood. Thus, the series remains predictable in revealing a dying studio system and foundering company. The series has a well composed set design and a superb ensemble of excellent actors, but the plot devolves amid tiresome tropes.

Exploitation Has No Gender

Sadly, the show proves that to compete with men, women must use the same tactics. Yawn! At worst their fallback position remains sexual if they are to survive. Exploitation provides the watery medium of Hollywood, both in front of and behind the cameras. This is the same old same old: brutality, fury, psychosis and unhappy sharks. Perhaps with more twists, more heightened dark satire, hackneyed Hollywood might provide a different entertainment.

See this if you like excellent acting and Hollywood snark that should be satire. Swimming With Sharks airs exclusively for free on the Roku Channel in April.

About Carole Di Tosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is a published writer, playwright, novelist, poet. She owns and manages three well-established blogs: 'The Fat and the Skinny,' 'All Along the NYC Skyline' ( 'A Christian Apologists' Sonnets.' She also manages the newly established 'Carole Di Tosti's Linchpin,' which is devoted to foreign theater reviews and guest reviews. She contributed articles to Technorati (310) on various trending topics from 2011-2013. To Blogcritics she has contributed 583+ reviews, interviews on films and theater predominately. Carole Di Tosti also has reviewed NYBG exhibits and wine events. She guest writes for 'Theater Pizzazz' and has contributed to 'T2Chronicles,' 'NY Theatre Wire' and other online publications. She covers NYC trending events and writes articles promoting advocacy. She professionally free-lanced for TMR and VERVE for 1 1/2 years. She was a former English Instructor. Her published dissertation is referenced in three books, two by Margo Ely, Ph.D. Her novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Powers' will be on sale in January 2021. Her full length plays, 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics or How Maria Caught Her Vibe' are being submitted for representation and production.

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