Allen v Farrow episode 1 recap – a worryingly compelling case is being made

March 1, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, Weekly TV
4

Summary

Allen v Farrow episode 1 paints a damning portrait of the beloved filmmaker and his deeply inappropriate relationship with Dylan Farrow.

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4

Summary

Allen v Farrow episode 1 paints a damning portrait of the beloved filmmaker and his deeply inappropriate relationship with Dylan Farrow.

This recap of Allen v Farrow episode 1 contains spoilers.


The apparent sexual proclivities of filmmaker Woody Allen are nothing new – everyone has heard the story and has heard it time and time again across decades, of how he supposedly abused his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, when she was 7 years old. HBO’s latest docuseries, the four-part and fittingly titled Allen v Farrow, attempts to resurface those allegations and examine them with a new, at least to my knowledge, level of depth. If the first episode is anything to go by, there’s plenty of unchewed meat on the bones of a widely publicized case that formed a crucial battleground of a custody war between Allen and Dylan’s mother, actress Mia Farrow.

Allen has always maintained that the accusations were coached by his ex-wife in order to smear his reputation as revenge for his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, another of Mia Farrow’s adopted daughters who Allen married in 1997 as if that wasn’t worrying enough. It’s far from the only thing that is decidedly questionable, if not outright creepy, about Allen’s life and behavior during that time, which documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, and Amy Herdy chronicle throughout the first episode, which begins with Farrow and Allen as the quintessential Hollywood power couple before gradually revealing a dense web of interlocking observations, some repeated anecdotally and some recorded, that paint a highly damning picture.

Woody Allen, unsurprisingly, didn’t contribute, but his perspective is continually reinforced by excerpts from his recent memoir, Apropos of Nothing, and he’s a frequent on-camera presence. Dylan’s own testimony sets the scene of a jet-setting childhood nestled in the luxury of Hollywood superstardom, but things take a dark turn quickly, with Allen’s weirdly dispassionate and deeply uninterested attitude towards children that would quite suddenly morph into intense obsession and infatuation with Dylan – a “little blond girl” that he said outright to Mia he might be more kindly disposed towards.

A lot of Allen v Farrow episode 1 is comprised of interviews with Farrow’s family and friends; a lot of what we hear has never been heard before, at least not this openly. It’s a familiar collection of slightly odd behaviors that taken alone probably wouldn’t mean much but all together create a clear picture of a predator isolating his prey, separating her from the other children so that he could, among other things, get into bed with her in his underwear, have her suck his thumb, and “suggestively” apply sunscreen. A psychologist had, at the time, described Allen’s behavior as “inappropriately intense” but apparently not sexual – how you can have one without the other is anyone’s guess.

Needless to say, the intensity of Allen’s affection towards Dylan causes her own personality to change, and she began to act fearfully and timidly around him, only becoming herself when he wasn’t around. Even Allen’s own memoir paints a bizarre picture of his relationship with Dylan, framing it almost exclusively in terms of the things he would buy her and do for her to prove his affection. Is it surprising that this kind of man might expect something in return?

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