The Girl Before
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The Girl Before
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Girl Before is a psychological drama about two women who live in the same house, three years apart from each other. Following two different timelines, both women, who have recently experienced personal traumas (rape, assault, stillbirth) find comfort in the home as well as its designer and landlord -- a brooding minimalist architect whose requirements for tenancy (and intimate partners) reveal increasingly disturbing patterns. Based on a book of the same name by J.P. Delaney, The Girl Before has strong themes of violence, drug use, and sex. The series is full of complex adult issues that may be triggering for viewers of any age.
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What's the Story?
A four-part drama series, written by and based on the book of the same name by J.P. Delaney, THE GIRL BEFORE braids the timelines of two women living in the same home, three years apart. The ultra-minimalist house in North London, designed by avant-garde architect Edward Monkford (David Oyelowo, Selma) is clad with polished concrete, marble slabs, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls throughout, sheltering a pristine courtyard with a single Japanese maple in the center. Edward's stringent rules limit privacy and personal belongings, have strict cleanliness guidelines (regular inspections and all), and require answering a very personal questionnaire to qualify for residency. When the newest tenant, Jane Cavendish (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Loki, Belle) finds out the last tenant, Emma Mathews (Jessica Plummer), died in the house three years earlier, she seeks answers that reveal troubling truths. Both women are navigating the aftermath of a life-altering trauma. Mirrored -- we see both women move in -- in hope of moving on. Viewers watch as magnetic, mysterious Edward soon pursues intimate relationships with both Emma and Jane. The narrative continues to reveal the eerie (possibly dangerous?) similarities between their experiences. While Emma's story has already been decided, Jane hopes her curiosities lead her to a different fate.
Is It Any Good?
This relatively short 4-part psychological thriller delivers suspense and intrigue with an ending that satisfies. The performances of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessica Palmer are particularly brilliant, while those who recognize David Oyelowo from his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, will enjoy seeing him transform into moody Edward Monkford. Directed by Lisa Brühlman (Killing Eve), viewers are assured they're in for suspense. Now, if watching characters repeatedly ignore multiple red flags concerning their safety completely spoils your entertainment enjoyment, then consider passing. But there's this: Underlying the primary action of the narrative are robust messages -- around therapy, loss, mourning, assault, coping, control, and the systemic failures that women-identifying people (and in particular those who are Black) experience -- that could be vital dialogue starters with teens.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Girl Before deals with issues in social services. What does the series say about law enforcement conduct while attending to rape survivors? How does the series address healthcare disparities in Black maternity care?
Consider design and aesthetics. What characteristics about the house were interesting to you? Did anything specific help you experience the home as its own character?
Would you ever live in a smart house like 1 Fulgate that decides what music you listen to or when to turn out the lights? Would you ever try living in extreme minimalism?
- Premiere date: February 10, 2022
- Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessica Plummer, David Oyelowo, Ben Hardy
- Network: HBO Max
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: April 11, 2022
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