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.