8.5

Too Close Brings a Feminist Slant to the Crime Drama Genre

In the new miniseries from AMC+, two women work to process emotional trauma left in the wake of a heinous crime.

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<i>Too Close</i> Brings a Feminist Slant to the Crime Drama Genre

In the new AMC+ original series Too Close, grief and motherhood are intrinsically linked. The captivating miniseries stars Emily Watson as Dr. Emily Robertson, a forensic psychologist tasked with determining if a patient’s post-traumatic amnesia is legitimate, or an excuse for the abhorrent crime she’s accused of committing. Too Close premiered in April in the UK, and all three episodes are now available exclusively on AMC+ in the United States.

Too Close, adapted from the novel of the same name by Natalie Daniels, is thrilling and emotionally rich. Denise Gough gives a fantastic performance as the acerbic Connie Mortensen, the “yummy mummy” at the center of the series. The first episode opens with Connie sobbing behind the wheel of her car as she drives through a torrential downpour. Two young girls sit in the back seat, buckled in and asleep. Connie is clearly distraught and panicking, and after glancing back at the girls one more time, drives her car off the edge of a bridge, plummeting into the choppy water below.

As the series unfolds over the course of three episodes, we slowly learn the tragic series of events that led Connie to her dramatic decision. We later see her as a fit, happy mother of two living in a posh neighborhood, but when Dr. Robertson and the audience are first introduced to her, Connie is mentally unstable, balding, and covered in graphic bruises and gashes. Anger and rage spew from her mouth. When she’s asked about driving her car off the bridge, Connie claims total amnesia. Vitriolic tabloid coverage of the case belittles the claims, and even Dr. Robertson’s husband believes she’s wasting her time with a liar who doesn’t deserve help.

But as Dr. Robertson says, we all deserve forgiveness. This core belief radiates from the extremely empathetic and understanding doctor, without letting Connie walk all over her. She doesn’t sugarcoat her strong feelings about Connie’s brash way of discussing the car crash, but understands more than anyone that trauma leads to irrational and undesirable behaviors. In a heartbreaking scene, Connie is showed an image of her bloodied daughter laying in a hospital bed following the crash. Her response is painful: she begins hysterically laughing. “She’s just playing!” she says to Dr. Robertson. “It’s just a game!” It’s in this moment that the weight of Connie’s illness, and how much work Dr. Robertson has ahead of her, is revealed.

Too Close is directed by Sue Tully, and with her female perspective behind the camera, the series explores the complications of womanhood, motherhood and sexuality in a meaningful way. Watson and Gough both give incredible performances as women deeply affected by grief and loss; when Dr. Robertson’s own past is brought into consideration as the characters work through Connie’s trauma together, the connection and surprising solidarity they share propels the series.

Connie and Dr. Robertson both have a tendency to internalize their problems, regardless of how they impact other people in their lives. They refuse to ask for help or support until the weight of the world is solely on their shoulders. Digging through Connie’s traumas together invites them to lean on each other. It’s not the most traditional relationship between a psychologist and a patient, but the thoughtful nature of Dr. Robertson’s line of questioning paired with Connie’s eventual willingness to be vulnerable makes the relationship work. The two share similar experiences and maladaptive coping mechanisms; while Dr. Robertson isn’t driving her car off a bridge with young children in the back, anger and isolation rule over her.

Too Close stands out against the typically male-dominated stories that fill the crime drama genre. The psychological drama plays out just slowly enough to keep you waiting for more, and goes beyond the central crime to tease out meaningful commentaries on grief, loss, motherhood, and sexuality. With two women and their unexpected shared trauma at the core of Too Close, the series manages to hit emotional highs while still maintaining the excitement of a thriller.

Too Close is currently streaming on AMC+



Kristen Reid is a culture writer and TV intern for Paste Magazine. She’s been known to spend too much time rewatching her favorite sitcoms, yelling at her friends to watch more TV, and falling in love with fictional characters. You can follow her on Twitter @kreidd for late-night thoughts on whatever she’s bingeing now.

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