The Lake season 1 review – a lake effect comedy

June 13, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Amazon Prime, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
2.5

Summary

The Lake is an uneven sitcom experience with a solid comic turn by Jordan Gavaris.

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2.5

Summary

The Lake is an uneven sitcom experience with a solid comic turn by Jordan Gavaris.

This review of the Amazon original series The Lake season 1 does not contain spoilers. 

Access the archive of recaps, reviews, and news for The Lake.

It’s a shame when some series box themselves in a corner. Many need time to find their voice and break away from the pilot’s plot restrictions. Series creators can pivot in the desperate hope of network television ordering more episodes. For example, take the cult classic Community—a series in the second half of its freshman run by diving head first into meta-story telling. The Lake, I believe, found its voice in their sixth episode. This outing is funny and irreverent, as adults play prank day on their kids inspired by the horror cult classic, Cabin in the Woods. However, the writers put the show back in the standard sitcom playbook, preventing the series from standing out from the crowded streaming wars of late.

The Lake tells the story of Justin (Jordan Gavaris), an openly gay man who returns home to spend the summer with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Billie (Madison Shamoun). The twist here is that Justin, now openly gay, gave her up for adoption. He had her with his best friend, Teesa, who was not ready to raise her. However, Billie’s adoptive parents are child development experts and openly encouraged her to have a relationship with her birth parents. You may find their pairing odd when you meet them initially. I mistook them for high school BFFs based on Gavaris’s boyish face. I am sure the producers made him grow a beard for that reason. (The streaming giant even has to make it a point to tell you both characters’ ages in the synopsis).

The adoption was best for Billie, but it created a rift with his family. His father wrote him out of the will because he gave up his granddaughter. He left everything to Justin’s step-sister, Maisy-May (Julia Stiles), who inherited a gorgeous Canadian lakeside home. Still, now she wants to demolish it and build one that will make the cover of Architectural Digest. (It will more likely end up on an episode of Flip or Flop on HGTV).

While most of you will be scratching your head on why someone would ever tear down such a beautiful home, Justin and Billie find a trust amended by Justin’s father. The cottage will transfer into his name if Maisy ever decides to leave the place or passes away. Either way, even if Justin gives, it will go to Billie at some point. This is the entire premise of The Lake, where Maisy and Justin have a battle of wits over who can retain or retrieve their legacy.

The Lake season 1, the first joint Amazon Original Canadian series, has its moments, mainly due to a solid comic turn by the fellow Canadian Gavaris (Orphan Black). However, the obsession with “tilting” competition never finds steady ground, and the series is incredibly uneven. Creator Julian Doucet, along with writers Vivian Lin and Lisa Codrington (who also plays Billie’s adoptive mother in the series), restricts themselves. How? By playing out the absurd plot. And, for that matter, it could have been done in two episodes if someone just got their lawyers involved. Sadly, we are held hostage to resolving the plot outlined in the pilot.

The Lake has its moments. The relationship with Billie’s birth parents and stepparents is handled with care (Billie’s father, Oliver, constantly calls her “Billie Bear”). You also have the sweet nature of Billie and Maisy’s son, Killian (Jared Scott), and their “kissing” step-cousins. Yet, we can’t even count on that as the series also has the crutch of the characters being incredibly mean to each other in a way to create comedy that falls flat. This even contradicts deeper themes of wanting to mend fences. Stiles’ Maisy is so awful that she grows tiresome quickly.

By the time the series finds some solid subtext involving Billie’s abandonment and a bit of excellent meta storytelling, they play it too safe. If the show is granted a second season, let’s hope they take the gloves off and allow some bolder storytelling choices going forward.

What did you think of the Amazon original series The Lake season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Amazon Prime. 

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