Devil in Ohio Starring Emily Deschanel Is a Bucky State Shlokfest: TV Review

Devil in Ohio Starring Emily Deschanel Is a Bucky State Shlokfest: A voice cries out, “The lessons of the fire, as we seek for something greater,” as pictures of birds in the air and blood flowing from a rose’s prickly stem fill the screen. “He’s the devil in Ohio, with eyes we’ve all grown accustomed to.” This theme tune has self-conscious silliness that, in a way, is finally merited by the series it introduces.

“Devil in Ohio” on Netflix isn’t so good that its mistakes end up making sense, but it’s so schlocky and unafraid of both its excesses and its flaws that it feels hard to criticize. In this movie, Emily Deschanel plays Suzanne, a psychiatrist whose new patient Mae (Madeleine Arthur), is strict because she has escaped a cult and appears to need shelter badly. Suzanne brings her home, and naturally, Suzanne has three daughters (played by Xaria Dotson, Alisha Newton, and Naomi Tan), from whom Mae can quickly gain influence or learn how high school life works.

The early episodes play with Lifetime movie portentousness, with endless hints that something is, eventually, going to turn nasty, if only because people this sunnily bland and sanded of character traits seem destined to have their lives interrupted. The question of what occurred to Mae in her upbringing and what cruel lessons she took from her misfortunes is whispered rather than spoken at first.

Devil in Ohio Starring Emily Deschanel Is a Bucky State Shlokfest
Devil in Ohio Starring Emily Deschanel Is a Bucky State Shlokfest

Sam Jaeger‘s portrayal of Suzanne’s husband and Gerardo Celasco’s role as a detective trying to figure out what sinister activity is haunting the Buckeye State both play characters that float through the action, but no one in this universe ever entirely feels real. Later in the series, Mae’s traumas are revealed too quickly to have much impact, and Suzanne’s recollections of abuse that mirror Mae’s seem insufficient to explain all of Mae’s poor judgment decisions and a little mercenary on the show’s authors’ side.

The entire purpose of what Suzanne has gone through is to help her story make sense, which is not unique, but “Devil in Ohio” feels like it was written so quickly that the seams are too prominent. But it doesn’t mean “Devil in Ohio” is dull. I found it amusing how the characters would refer to their teams as “Go Bucks!” or “Go Browns!” to let us know where they were.

Furthermore, the show’s ending is depressing in a way that seems like a neat and satisfying reversal of the suburban stereotypes it had previously exploited. To get there, you must navigate through a lot of material, most amusing for unintended effects.

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