‘Clickbait’ is an American-Australian drama series created by Tony Ayres and Christian White. Its first season consisting of eight episodes premiered on Netflix on August 25 with Brad Anderson, Emma Freeman, Ben Young and Laura Besley serving as directors.
Just as its title suggests, this exhilarating tale grabs audiences’ attention, takes them through an excitingly highly paced journey of pure entertainment pleasure, and definitely leaves you still satisfied but yearning for more. It’s not complicated or sophisticated but it will turn you into a couch slave which is totally worth it. The cast is expertly chosen and keeps the audience on their feet with award worthy performances through a logic defying narrative packed with melodrama and zeal.
This intriguing miniseries follows a family which finds itself in a peculiar situation. The son of the family called Nick Brewer a role by Adrian Grenier appears one day in a viral video holding a series of signs that says that he abuses women and when the video reaches five million views he will die. This of course garners a lot of media buzz and in seconds the entire internet is blowing up. Everyone is watching from their devices, be it phones, computers, TVs, tablets leading to thousands of clicks in just a matter of minutes.
Speaking of Nick Brewer, he lives with his family in a small community in Oakland where one seems to know each other. He has a mother Andrea played by Elizabeth Alexander, a sister Pia a role by Zoe Kazan who is incredibly shocked and enraged by the trending video of her brother, a wife Sophie embodied by Betty Gabriel who is completely lost and confused by what’s happening with her husband and his two sons Ethan and Kai played by Camaron Eagles and Jaylin Fletcher respectively.
Being from a small town and with the power of the internet, the Brewers become the topic of gossip, Sophie’s colleagues at school start whispering behind her back, the kids start being bullied at school and the media camp outside their home like the bloodsuckers they are with the hope of capturing every single moment without minding what the family must be going through.
This makes one wonder who this Nick Brewer is and why this is happening to him or what he’s done for something this outlandish to befall him and his family. Pia obviously has had enough of the intrusion and believes the message is not a confession but a death threat and isn’t sitting around waiting for the authorities to step in. She takes matters into her own hands and enlists the help of her hacker friend Vince played by Jack Walton to help kick start her own private investigation by looking into her brother’s online life. Another valuable ally comes in, in the form of detective Roshan Amiri a role by Phoenix Raei who is looking into advancing himself in his career by getting a promotion up the homicide ladder.
As the new team pursues a series of clues they garner along the way, it shockingly dawns on them that Nick isn’t really the doting family man he seemed to be in front of his family. There is some questionable stuff regarding Nick’s online life, tons of dating profiles, and now with him missing, the family is left to run with guesses and assumptions to try and knit the circumstances together to make sense out of all of it.
Every single episode is crafted in a way that focuses on a different character. For instance, there’s ‘The Sister,’ We have ‘The Detective,’ ‘The Wife’ and so forth. Starting the series there is Pia, who kind of feels guilty regarding how she ended things with Nick the last time they saw each other. Then Sophie trying to keep the family together whereas safeguarding a secret of her own and then the sons Ethan and Kai who having spent their lives entirely on social media somehow relate to what’s happening to their father. Finally, there’s Roshan and a journalist named Ben Park played by Abraham Lim who see this scandal as an opportunity to enhance their individual careers.
Each of the focused installments digs into the character’s interior lives with the actors grabbing the chance to catapult the story forward. When one looks at Pia and Sophie’s characters, one can easily identify the diverse variations. One is the extreme opposite of the other. Pia contemptuous, Sophie more contained and reserved. Basically, the white Pia can be dramatic in a way that the Black Sophie can’t manage which is quite commendable that the show raises this aspect in the first place.
Another notable thing is that Roshan is allowed to embrace his personal home life, he visits the mosque to pray and speaks Persian and most admirable of all, being a character of Iranian descent, he isn’t a terrorist in the series something that is typical of Hollywood stereotypes.
All these masterful performances told in transitions between the present time period and flashbacks don’t really allow for a tangible back story to develop. Some characters such as those of Nick’s kids Ethan and Kai come across as underdeveloped and are treated more or less like a nuisance instead of justifiable well-founded components to the storyline.
‘Clickbait’ is however a roller coaster ride as just as the characters are thrown into a frenzy, the audience goes along with them. So many questions crop up regarding Nick and everyone is hooked on the guessing game regarding what really is happening. In addition to the whodunit ritual, the are a couple of other aspects which are really captivating. From the way the characters who are not perfect at all are portrayed, to the commentary exposing the dark side of modern-day social media, to the subtle allusion to sexism, racism and discrimination based on religious beliefs stretching all the way to today’s societal mannerisms in general.
The intriguing part doesn’t really lie in the production design, the camerawork or costume, don’t get it wrong all are quite decent but the carefully thought-out inclusiveness of the stories and the various layers shelling all these characters are the real magnets.