What/If premieres May 24th on Netflix.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Ariba Bhuvad
Ladies and gentlemen, soap operas aren’t just a thing of daytime viewing anymore. If you’re a fan of them, then look no further than Netflix’s What/If starring Renée Zellweger, Blake Jenner (Glee), and Jane Levy (Suburgatory) created by Revenge’s, Mike Kelley. You all remember Revenge, don’t you? It too had the vibes of a soap opera and though it did not go on to see many seasons, it was one of the first to embrace a soap opera-like vibe into a primetime drama.
What/If follows a married couple, Lisa and Sean, who haven’t exactly had the best of luck in their lives, with Sean being an ex-MLB pitcher and Lisa running a struggling medical solutions company. Their backs are up against the wall, and this is when the marvelous Zellweger steps in an as Anne Montgomery, the wealthiest woman in San Francisco. As soon as Anne enters the story, What/If gets weird in the best of ways. Watching this series is like dealing with conflicting feelings that simultaneously tell you, yes and no, you simply can’t stop watching, even if you desire to.
It comes as no surprise that Kelley is behind this series given his flair for the dramatics and suspense as we all saw in Revenge. Similarly, What/If places a couple with nowhere else to turn and mounting money problems against a billionaire that has less than ideal intentions but the cash flow to fix Lisa and Sean’s life. It’s basically the modern-day version of Indecent Proposal with so many callbacks to the film’s central plot. I have to say Zellweger has always been a force to reckon with and while What/If isn’t something fans will flock to or be obsessed with, watching her makes it all worth it. Her raspy, sensual voice fits her character’s persona so perfectly, and the evil mind with which her character operates is addicting to watch.
Netflix may have made an interesting choice by going with What/If but that is the beauty of it. Not every show of theirs has to be mindblowing or award-winning. In fact, shows like What/If give us something different to watch that may be silly in concept, but fun to watch nonetheless. It’s exactly the kind of show you can get sucked into and finish with no regrets, and then move on with your life. We all love guilty pleasures, and I promise you What/If will be one of them. A story about a billionaire manipulating and using a desperate couple for her own benefit? Who wouldn’t want to watch that show?