In a tense and divided world, maybe it’s our collective love for true-crime TV shows that really brings us all together — and I’m only half joking. From “Law & Order” to “Criminal Minds,” thrillers and murder mysteries have become television staples and fan favorites throughout the years. With the new show “Suspicion,” Apple TV+ takes a jump into the ever-popular crime drama genre — a genre they prove they should’ve stayed out of.
“Suspicion” follows three seemingly ordinary characters who are arrested in connection with the kidnapping of the son of an American media star. The show opens with said son, Leo (Gerran Howell, “Catch-22”), being abducted by four suspicious figures, their faces covered by masks bearing the face of each member of the royal family (FYI: seeing the Queen of England’s face on the body of someone stuffing a person into a suitcase is extremely off-putting). Leo’s suspected abductors are three average Brits: Professor Tara McAllister (Elizabeth Henstridge, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”), unemployed IT expert Aadesh Chopra (Kunal Nayyar, “Big Bang Theory”) and bride-to-be Natalie Thompson (Georgina Campbell, “Broadchurch”), who is arrested in an over-dramatic frenzy just as she’s walking down the aisle on her big day. Each character seems fairly normal, but each of them has their secrets — like Natalie’s covert payment to cover her mom’s debts or Aadesh’s secret “business” trips to New York City. (Seriously, when has the business trip excuse ever worked?) Though they may all seem inconspicuous, they’ve all got something to hide.
Kidnapping plots and conspiracies aside, it’s pretty obvious that “Suspicion” is sending a deeper meaning than your average kidnapping drama, or at least it’s trying to. Similar to “Black Mirror,” “Suspicion” aims to serve as a social commentary on technology. Given that the kidnapped individual is the son of a media mogul and the extras have their phones out recording at every turn, the message is by no means subtle. However, unlike “Black Mirror,” which had nuanced storylines that acted as a vessel for its message in unique and thought-provoking ways, “Suspicion” seems to provide a pretty bland take on what is, quite frankly, old news. Also, it’s a message that’s hard to take seriously when every character in the show holds their phones in a way no one has ever held a phone — like it’s brand new and fresh out of the Apple store. To really emphasize the importance of technology in the show, many shots are shown through surveillance cameras or video footage, which really adds nothing to the plot and only confuses the viewer. I think anti-technology themes are quickly becoming overdone in TV, and “Suspicion” does nothing to change that.
The overall mundanity of the introductory plot points was eventually broken up by the appearance of a new and more interesting character: Sean Tilson (Elyes Gabel, “Scorpion”), who is implied to be the ringleader of the kidnapping scheme. He provides entertainment in the form of a clever police escape and a quick and elaborate disguise swap that was reminiscent of BBC’s “Sherlock.” He may be the bad guy, but I can’t say I’m not intrigued. Hopefully, as the show progresses, it will focus more on the moments like these that provide cliffhangers and suspense and less on the societal criticisms.
Despite its overzealous attempt at tackling themes of technology, the premiere episode of “Suspicion” was not a snooze-fest or a complete disaster. While it spent more time setting up the plot than introducing the characters, no amount of faults can erase the curiosity crime dramas always spark. As I watched events unfold, I (occasionally) was genuinely interested in what happened next. The bar may be low, but at least “Suspicion” meets it. While off to a rocky start, Apple TV+ hasn’t totally blown its first endeavor into the true-crime scene — yet.
Daily Arts Contributor Annabel Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.