I think as kids we all go through a stage where we wonder how fun life would be if we didn’t have to follow the rules and regulations set in place by our parents, teacher and other adults. This theory becomes a grisly reality in Netflix Original Series, Between, when a mysterious virus breaks out in the isolated, small town of Pretty Lake killing everyone over the age of 21. Within seconds of anyone showing symptoms, they cough up a bloody bile and drop dead. The town is placed under quarantine, turning the children into ones reminiscent of Lord of the Flies as they battle between civilisation and savagery.
The quarantine isn’t the only threat the children face, as a lack of communication and power also means a lack of food and warmth as Winter approaches. While the children don’t show any of the symptoms their parents did, it is instead a race against each person’s biological clock to find a cure for the virus as the second each resident turns 22, they’re dead.
Pretty Lake becomes a setting that is both forgettable, as it lacks any distinct personality, and relatable as it’s reminiscent of almost any small town in the Western world. This is intentional for those audience reasons, but also within the story as the town quickly becomes quarantined. The children are not only facing a deadly virus, but an unbreakable perimeter set up by a government who refuses to help. No one leaves and no one enters. There is no communication with the outside world and those who attempt to cross the perimeter from either side are dead.
Between does a good job of effectively creating the Under the Dome and isolated nature it sets to create, however, it lacks the ability to create strong characters that we can resonate with. The series’ major flaw is its inability to create an emotional bond with any of the characters. Too much time is spent trying to introduce too many characters and their conflicts rather than encouraging us to focus our attention on sympathising with a select few.
Between also falls into the trap of using a mix of overly stereotypical characters: Chuck (Justin Kelly), the rich high school jock whose family ran the town, Gord (Ryan Allen), a poor farm boy who steps up and helps the town survive, Melissa (Brooke Palsson), the extremely religious one who takes in all the young orphans, Ronnie (Kyle Mac) the troubled outcast, whose main role is to create conflict (but he’s not as bad as he seems obviously), and Adam (Jesse Carere), the computer nerd who figures everything out. The series had multiple opportunities to develop strong character arcs and allow a breakaway from these stereotypes but unfortunately, both the acting and writing (not to mention the casting of adults who look well over 22) rarely rises above mediocre.
The two season, twelve episode, Netflix Original series, could have been an interesting look at how children respond to grief, isolation, power abuse, violence and ultimately learn to work together, but the writers seem to have little faith in the younger generation and how they would react to a crisis. Instead, it relies on the intense premise of the series and the star power of iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy, who plays pregnant teen Wiley. If you’re into thrilling series’ that keep you on the edge of your seat, I would look elsewhere, but if you’re up for a quick, cheap disaster series with a few gory moments, Between is for you.
21 May 2015
8 hrs 40 mins (2 Seasons)