Keeley Hawes fronts ITV’s exceptionally odd genre hybrid that, at least after one episode, is pretty difficult to get a bead on.
This recap of Finding Alice season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
ITV’s Finding Alice (not to be confused with Apple TV+’s Losing Alice), which is fronted by a Keeley Hawes who seems happy to be there if not necessarily sure of what kind of show she’s in, is as much a comedy as it is a drama and as much a drama as it is a mystery – in more ways than one, as it happens. Hawes, who co-executive-produces alongside Roger Goldby, plays the titular Alice as a stricken woman whose husband falls to his death down the stairs of their new handmade “smart” house and can’t help making jokes about it. When we meet her, on the day after her husband, Harry (Jason Merrells), has died, she’s screaming and crying in a pile of empty wine bottles and old takeout cartons about not being able to find the fridge.
The point of this bizarre show is equally hidden. It’s making a mockery of new-fangled modern living, that’s for sure, but, given the mysteries surrounding Harry’s sudden death, his business, and someone who arrives claiming to be his son right in time for a cliffhanger ending, it’s making a mockery of the thriller genre, too. How’re we expected to care about what happened to these people if Alice herself seems undecided on how to feel? The very next day she’s kitted herself out in summery glam attire, much to the confusion of her teenage daughter, Charlotte (Isabella Pappas), her mother (Joanna Lumley), and the police. Aren’t mourners supposed to wear black?
This is the point, obviously. Alice literally says several times that she’s expected to act a certain way in the throes of grief, and she shouldn’t be judged for going off-script, but the character is so obviously performative that the idea doesn’t take. She’s all funny quips – quite well-written ones, as it happens – and deeply suspicious behavior, so the outbursts and breakdowns that are intended to be her real feelings of grief coming through feel just as inauthentic. If the show is making a point about the burdens of expectation placed upon those who’re already suffering tremendous emotional trauma, and I think it’s a safe bet to assume it is, then it isn’t exactly doing a good job of it.
Having said all this, Finding Alice episode 1 is rather engaging as a mystery, in part because it’s so bonkers and off-kilter that you genuinely can’t tell what direction it might head in next. Alice is bizarrely adamant about keeping the house’s CCTV footage away from the police. A supposed business partner of Harry’s turns up and offers Alice a grand in cash to keep her going. And Harry has a grown-up son? It’s certainly a lot. What exactly it’s a lot of is, at least at this point, anyone’s guess.