Masterfully manipulative and surprisingly emotive, this soppy drama series will not be for everyone, yet it includes superb performances from both Connie Britton and Taylor Schilling, who portray their grief in two very different, but equally authentic ways.
We review the Apple TV+ series Dear Edward Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.
The best entertainment makes you feel something, whether it’s a horror movie making you jump or a comedy making you laugh. Whatever the genre, it is important to engage the viewer on an emotional level as well as on an intellectual one. In storytelling, one of the hardest emotions to provoke has to be sadness, to make an audience member cry. Dear Edward is one of those shows that is gunning for tears from the get-go, a melancholic tearjerker that has the potential to move countless viewers in 2023, although it walks a very fine line between sappy and the sublime in the pursuit of this goal.
Dear Edward Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
This Apple Original series, based on the 2020 best-selling novel of the same name by Ann Napolitano, tells the story of 12-year-old Edward Adler (Colin O’Brien), the only person to survive a horrific plane crash. In that devastating crash, Edward loses his parents and his brother, practically his whole world. The series explores Edward’s dilapidating grief in the aftermath of this disaster, alongside other individuals who lost their loved ones in that same tragedy. While the victims in this catastrophe struggle to comprehend such death and destruction, the airline organizes a support group, which is attended by a handful of mourners.
This group therapy includes numerous cast members, each with their own painful problems and unique stories to tell. Edward’s Aunt Lacey (Taylor Schilling) is one of those in attendance. Lacey lost her sister in the crash and now finds herself responsible for her troubled nephew. She struggles to connect with the ‘miracle boy’, whilst their home is inundated with letters addressed specifically to Edward. He has become a celebrity of sorts, but they try to shield him from this adult world and all the crazy ramblings of his crazy fans.
Other support group members include Dee Dee (Connie Britton), whose husband Charles died in the crash. She is shocked to discover the many secrets her husband was keeping from her, as well as dealing with that heart-wrenching grief. There’s Adriana, a proactive woman running for congresswoman; Ghanaian Kojo, who travels to America to look after his niece Becks; and Linda, played by Amy Forsyth (CODA), who lost her boyfriend in the disaster. These grieving individuals connect and form lifelong bonds while helping one another through this unrivaled predicament.
Is Dear Edward Season 1 good?
Dear Edward is a tricky one to categorize, especially when you focus on its main talking point, which happens to be the show’s strong suit and somehow its weakness, all in one. This is an emotional series, one that will either cause viewers to break down in floods of tears or instantly switch off, due to its manipulative nature. As with all things in pop culture, it comes down to a matter of taste, but this series is desperate to engage with viewers on an emotional level, throwing absolutely everything at it. This is a terribly depressing story, that doesn’t hold back, and for the most part, it succeeds. Well, this critic was reduced to a blubbering mess on the odd occasion, but that’s just me. In the end, it all depends on your threshold for the soppy and the sentimental.
If you are looking for a real tearjerker, then this might be the one for you. In any given installment there are a handful of scenes that seemingly come out of nowhere to floor you. As the series progresses, the characters try to rebuild their lives, which offers a chance for some uplifting moments, but grief is hard to overcome and there are many ups and downs along the way. This roller-coaster of emotions is eloquently conveyed by the cast, with Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) and Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) proving their stature in the TV landscape, with two award-worthy performances on full display in the first few episodes alone.
The depressing subject matter won’t be for everyone, and this emotional manipulation is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but the formula works. You want to see these individuals improve and progress after such a tragedy, you connect with their grief on a human level. It’s just a shame that some of the subplots are more intriguing than others, whilst the soundtrack can be rather distracting on the whole. An emotive drama series that aims big and nearly pulls it off.
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