I love a good mini series.
It's short, sweet, and to the point; unlike so many television shows these days that seem to drag out season after season until the plot is so convoluted that the writers can't untangle their way out of it and are forced to bring it to a weird/unsatisfying close.
One of HBO's newest dramas, The Night Of, centers around a college student in New York City who find himself the suspect in a murder investigation after an encounter with a mysterious woman while driving his father's cab.
This description contains all the buzzwords I need to be intrigued about a show, and, more importantly, seems like a good way to tide me over until Adnan Syed's upcoming hearing (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
The series, while captivating and well-acted, also puzzled me in more ways than one.
And since no one from the production has contacted me about providing the DVD commentary, I figure I would take this opportunity to share the inner (sometimes outer) monologue that occurred as I watched The Night Of.
1. "There's no way this dude is under 25."
My years of watching 30 year old actors portray high school students in angsty mid-2000s classics such as One Tree Hill and The OC have trained me to recognize when the casting directors are trying to pull a fast one on me.
Do they really think I won't notice the receding hairlines and subtle melancholy that lives in the eyes of someone who's survived their 20s?
No, Riz Ahmed won't be signing up for AARP for quite some time, but he's certainly well beyond his college years.
As I suspected, a quick Google search confirms that he is 33 years old, a good 12-ish years older than his character, Naz. My research also informs me that he's a rapper? Will have to look into that further.
2. "Ugh, this character again."
Solemn, complicated, broken-yet-beautiful female who intrigues the main character while still maintaining an air of mystery?
She wears dark nail polish and has a bit of a drinking problem and is sexually aggressive in a way that the male writers clearly wish the women that they encounter would be?
Nope, definitely have never seen that before. Unprecedented.
3. "Dude, this girl is CLEARLY trouble. Run away. RUN FAR AWAY."
Anyone who gets in a cab in the middle of the night by themselves and wistfully breathes at their cab driver to take them "to the beach" is clearly not in a good place.
She's also remains completely unaffected upon discovering that her cab driver is not in fact a cab driver, but borrowing the car from his dad and therefore does not understand how to get around the city in the slightest.
In any normal circumstance, a real New Yorker would be perturbed (and if female, probably a bit skeptical of her safety) to find out that their cabbie is a phony.
All of this combined with her Avril Lavigne-style eyeliner and extremely forthcoming substance abuse point to almost certain danger. RUN AWAY, NAZ.
4. "Okay, this was clearly actually filmed in NYC. 4 for you, Glen Coco."
We're all pretty tired of seeing fake New York City depicted in various TV shows and movies.
Has anyone ever seen a Manhattan bar as spacious as MacLaren's on How I Met Your Mother? No. Because they do not exist.
But it's immediately clear that this series was actually filmed in The Big Apple. The cramped streets and shots of classic NYC architecture are dead giveaways, as is the constant discussing of the city's geography and the naming of specific streets.
In fact, they almost hit that little too hard, as if to tell the audience "Yes, real New Yorkers wrote this show. It takes place in New York. Pizza. Subways. Woody Allen."
5. "This plot is far too convenient."
Naz just happens to be in the cop car when the police are called regarding Andrea's murder? Really?
Also, they didn't notice he was hungover AF and covered in blood, not finding anything suspicious about him until they literally pulled the murder weapon from his person at the police station seemingly hours later? Hmmmm. Okay.
6. "Why does no one seem to care that Naz is illegally driving this cab?"
I obviously knew that Naz would be arrested for murder (thanks HBO plot summaries), but the second he "borrowed" his father's cab, I was certain that his first brush with the law that night would be in regards to illegally driving a taxi.
Yet all law enforcers in the episode seemed to completely glaze over this fact, and when he's first pulled over, it's because of an illegal turn.
Um, hello? He's driving a taxi that's not his? And he is not a registered NYC cab driver? I'm no police officer, but I feel like that's probably against the law.
7. "I think I have an obsession with murder."
Although I'm not super impressed by The Night Of, I can't stop watching, and intend to continue watching through the conclusion of the series. Why you ask?
Well, probably the same reason why season 1 of Serial still keeps me up at night, the reason why I immediately flipped to the "Death and Dying" section of Chicken Soup For The Kids Soul, and why my mother and I share a mutual obsession with Law and Order SVU.
MURDER/DEATH IS FREAKING FASCINATING.
I realize that this sounds questionable and possibly insensitive, but given the amount of wildly popular crime shows out there, I don't think I'm alone in this.
8. "I really wish John Turturro's character was played by ______"
If you didn't know, The Night Of was James Gandolfini's post-Sopranos passion project. He'd pitched it to HBO as a kind of anthologized crime drama called, Criminal Justice where each season would deal with a different central mystery.
While that sounds a lot like what True Detective was also supposed to be, the tragedy here isn't a bad second season. It's that after a great amount of tinkering, a successful pilot shoot, and the green light from HBO, Gandolfini passed away. It was the last thing he ever shot.
John Turturro came in and picked up the slack, and now, having seen it, we really feel the void Gandolfini's death has left.[Feature Image Courtesy GQ]