Story: Candy (Jessica Biel) seems to have an almost dream life, a husband with a good job, a family, a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood, and she is active in local social circles, but beneath the surface, is there more than meets the eye. As part of one her busy days, Candy has to divide her time between several tasks and one of those tasks is to retrieve a swimsuit, so that her daughter’s friend can swim later in the day. As usual for Candy, she is able to make things work and despite a tight schedule, manages to have everything done and in order, before heading to the movie theater to close out the night. But her stop for the swimsuit at the home neighbor Betty (Melanie Lynskey) might not have gone as planned, as Betty is dead and Candy appears to be a suspect. What happened in Betty’s house and what would drive Candy or anyone else to that kind of violence?
Entertainment Value: A five episode limited series inspired by real life events, Candy is a skilled blend of melodrama, psychological thriller, and even some touches of satire. The story is a wild one, with the usual and expected suburban life tropes, such as the wistful housewives, work obsessed husbands, idyllic optics, and of course, gossip, infidelity, and murder. But the tropes are tropes for a reason and all of the dysfunction seems right at home in the world of Candy, so it all feels mostly natural, if a little over the top in a few spots. To be fair however, the dark bursts of humor and satire temper that criticism, as even the over the top moments aren’t too out of place here. The series is also upfront that changes were made to add drama to the already quite dramatic story, so some more off the rails moments should likely be more or less expected. I felt the pace of the series was excellent, deliberate and layered, but never slow and as the episodes unfolded, I was more and more drawn in. The structure of the narrative flow works well also, taking time to not only develop our primary characters, but to flesh out the entire world they reside in, which is quite a vibe in this case. I found Candy to be a superb limited series and it likely holds strong appeal even outside the usual true crime audiences.
The cast here is excellent as well, with Jessica Biel in the titular role and she is superb, with some of the best work of her career. She brings Candy to life in a very authentic fashion, she seems believable and three dimensional, very impressive work. The script lets Biel shows us several sides of Candy, depending on her circumstances and while she is clearly (like all of us) a flawed person, you can also see why she was so liked within her social circles. Biel just has the vibe of the era down and feels like she’s a throwback in time, like she just stepped out of an old school sitcom. The tired, dissatisfied suburban wife and mother is a well tread archetype, but in this kind of a story, it feels fresher, since we’re shown some of the blowback from that lifestyle. Melanie Lynskey is also quite remarkable in Candy, in a smaller, but crucial and very memorable role. The scenes between the two are fantastic and Candy would not have been this good without these two in these roles. The cast also includes Justin Timberlake, Pablo Schreiber, Raul Esparza, and Jessie Mueller.