Devil’s Advocate Season 1 Review – A so-so legal thriller not without flaws

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 14, 2023
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Devil's Advocate Season 1 Review - A so-so legal thriller not without flaws


It isn’t immune to cliche, but otherwise Devil’s Advocate is a perfectly serviceable legal thriller that benefits from its cultural specificity.

This review of the 2023 Netflix series Devil’s Advocate Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

Not to be confused with the 1997 film starring Keanu Reeves, Devil’s Advocate is a Netflix limited series set in Kuwait City. Only the second of the streamer’s Kuwaiti projects – the first being The Exchange, which is rather good – this seven-part legal thriller lacks the film’s supernatural component but paddles in the same waters of flexible morality in the justice system.

Devil’s Advocate Season 1 review and plot summary

Plot-wise, here’s the deal.

A famous footballer, Bader, is accused of stabbing his wife Dalal to death, and it’s an easy sell given a history of domestic abuse and some compelling evidence. Naturally, the media and the public hang him in the court of public opinion, and the outcome of his actual legal trial seems like a foregone conclusion.

However, Loulwa, a former journalist and human rights activist, takes his case, believing – rightly, as there wouldn’t be a show here if not – that there’s more to the story. Amid corruption, media influence, social pressure, ingrained attitudes, and actual threats, she toils to uncover the truth and uncovers – all together now – much more than she bargained for.

Everyone loves a good courtroom drama, and Devil’s Advocate mostly delivers one. Eventually, anyway. In the lead-up to the big dramatic showdown, what unfurls across the 35-ish-minute episodes is essentially a character drama against the backdrop of Kuwaiti culture and institutional corruption.

This is perhaps not all that illuminating. A tragic past leading to a misguided present – the old “hurt people hurt people” chestnut – and corrupt officialdom aren’t exactly revelatory. Industries like the media and professional football have been criticized at great length in the past.  Devil’s Advocate, for all its sharp writing and solid acting, never quite manages to overcome this feeling of retreading familiar ground.

The writing and acting help, though. The presentation of the investigation is compelling and engaging, seven episodes running scarcely over half an hour is, it turns out, a great length for a limited series, and the characters – some of them, anyway – are nuanced and complex enough that getting to know them feels like half the pleasure.

And then there’s the whole point of setting a show in Kuwait, which is to immerse it in the rich history and traditions of the setting, which lends Devil’s Advocate a quality that most legal thrillers just don’t have. Netflix once again excels in showcasing a wide range of international productions to a mainstream, global audience, and for that, it must once again be commended.

Is Devil’s Advocate good or bad?

By and large, then, Devil’s Advocate is a fine, perfectly serviceable legal drama.

Is it without flaws? No, of course not. There’s the thematic familiarity mentioned above, some plot turns strain credibility, and some characters can’t help but slip into outright cliche. This aside, though, the usual pleasures of courtroom thrillers, including the big payoff, are all present and correct, and the cultural insight is undeniably valuable.

Is Devil’s Advocate worth watching?

Fans of the genre who have been relatively underserved recently may well find a lot to like in Devil’s Advocate, and its brevity is a major selling point. A reasonably strong recommendation makes sense here.

What did you think of Devil’s Advocate Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

Additional reading:

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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