Under the Bridge

Under The Bridge
Under The Bridge
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1997 is a year that existed before social media was invented, as it did not yet shape our lives and ‘influence’ us particularly teenagers, but cruelty and abuse has always been there. Under the Bridge, Hulu’s new drama set in the late 90s, reflects the emotional battles taking place on the internet each day where bullying and hateful acts prevail thus leading to continuous efforts to protect.

You also think about what would have happened with Reena Virk if this series were based on current reality. Eight days after being surrounded and beaten by a group of teenagers on November 14th 1997 in British Columbia, Virk’s body was found dead. She was only fourteen years old.

This limited series is an adaptation of Rebecca Godfrey’s true-crime book titled “Under The Bridge” which features Lily Gladstone, Riley Keough,Vritika Gupta, Chloe Guidry,Javon“Wanna”Walton,Izzy G., Aiyana Goodfellow,Ezra Faroque Khan,and Archie Panjabi among others.Distinctly reminiscent of Mare of Easttown and Sharp Objects, it captivates from start to finish creating such a haunting tale of Virk. It is a thoughtful gem featuring captivating performances by its ensemble cast; Gladstone, Keough and newbie Gupta are all surefire Emmy noms.

Executive producers include Quinn Shephard, Samir Mehta (Fear the Walking Dead), author Rebecca Godfrey and star Riley Keough among others in Under the Bridge..But yes,Gofrey who died at 54 years old due to lung cancer in 2022 just one week after her book had been green lighted.Track by track she directs passion into this TV version as much as she did in her article.Edgy Rebecca Godfrey (played by Keough) goes back home while former local police officer Cam Bentland(Gladstone) narrates this whole series that reveals and brings out shocking views about the possible killer of Virk.

The story begins on the day of Reena’s death, then proceeds to jump across timelines to flesh out the details. We soon find out that Reena has been kicked out from Josephine Bell’s “in” crowd (an intense Chloe Guidry), a brat with an eerie fixation on John Gotti. However, her pals Kelly Ellard and Dusty Pace are always following suit but in this case Kelly becomes an unpredictable wild card.

On the adult side of things, we discover that author Rebecca arrives just when Reena goes missing. She gets involved in this missing person’s case due to its personal nature as it affects Cam who is now a police officer working with her dad and brother.Hence there is some bad history between two them that involves something Rebecca can’t get over yet. Nevertheless, all three parties including Reena’s anguished parents (played by Archie Panjabi and Ezra Faroque Khan who give depth and realistic heartache) would only serve like matchboxes thrown into emotional fire by this desire of hers to write a book about what happened.Shepard unfolds more layers of mystery throughout these episodes leading to an absolutely engaging and thrilling plot in general.

Several key points are played off by Under the Bridge with great effect. These include racial issues. Reena and her parents are from the Indian subcontinent. In one chapter, there is a backlash at Jehovah’s Witnesses religious faith, as Reena rebels against her own Indian heritage. It just so happened that she dashes into Jo’s camp and was not considered as part of it but she later changed their perception about who she was. There is also a backstory of how Reena’s parents had to come to terms with the hostility they experienced while joining predominantly white BC communities. Not only that, Cam an indigenous person whose life path (she was adopted) makes people question their authenticity.

These motifs swirl within the show-runner’s creative kaleidoscope; presenting a bewildering landscape of universal yearning for acceptance and community frailties that can be explored by anyone willing to see them. All three of them were foster kids: Kelly, Jo and Dusty would make up an ideal click but behind this emotional wall they constructed lie little girls who have never known empathy, compassion or guidance leave alone unconditional love in their lives since their traumatic experiences remain untreated till now The turn is very messed up because in order to win approval or fit in with the group Reena betrays her family hence breaking all ties with them.

Re-enacting a tormented teenager looking for somewhere soft to land here Vritika Gupta is breathtakingly believable as Reena. Her portrayal is reminiscent of Jodie Foster’s unnerving yet sympathetic take on another damaged cop in season four of True Detective where Gladstone starred fresh off her commanding turn in Killers of the Flower Moon Gladstone gives more through less acting than Foster did. There is something about those soulful eyes that keeps you absorbed in every move Gomez makes.

Riley Keough perfectly portrays Rebecca as angsty as much as the character demands it.
While I wish there had been some more scenes between these two and an exploration of their pasts, these actresses make for a great dynamic duo. It’s worth noting that Euphoria fans will recognize Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton who played Ashtray in the hit series. In her role as Warren, a teenage A-lister who goes astray, he gives a brilliant performance that ultimately leads to Rebecca befriending him.

The story itself is well taken care of with Geeta Patel (Ahsoka and Meet the Patels) directing episode one and Catherine Hardwicke taking charge of episode three.

Likewise, having directed Twilight as well as Lords of Dogtown, Hardwicke knows exactly how to create powerful scenes involving teenagers. Though Under the Bridge is tragic, it’s clear that showrunner Quinn Shephard wanted more than just to create must-see drama but also render justice to Reena Virk story and other oppressed teens whose destinies may change forever in seconds. You can watch Under the Bridge on Hulu from April 17 through this link:

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