Sunday, January 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'Bridge and Tunnel' - Jimmy and Jill Are Completely Unsure of What They Want from Each Other in 'The Graduates'

Epix's Bridge and Tunnel - Episode 1.01 "The Graduates"

On the night of his college graduation, Jimmy falls back into the arms of his ex-girlfriend Jill, much to the concern of his friends and parents who worry restarting this relationship may derail his future plans as a nature photographer. Stacey returns home for the weekend, and even though she's in a relationship, heats things up with her high school boyfriend, Mikey.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Epix's Bridge and Tunnel.

"The Graduates" was written by Edward Burns and directed by Edward Burns

It's strange for every piece of dialogue in a series premiere to feature exposition and the viewer walks away after it all having no understanding of the characters whatsoever. It's baffling really. The same details and situations happen over and over again. That may be the point of the series. It highlights the ways in which these patterns form and provide comfort to those caught up in these lives. It doesn't have to be boring though. It's perfectly fun for a series to approach its storytelling with low stakes. It can be fun to watch a show be confident with how relaxed and inconsequential it is. And yet, it still needs to provide some sense of entertainment to the viewer. It has to provide dialogue that pops with how specific and winning it is. It needs details that further enrich our understanding of this world and the stakes that the characters feel with the choices they are making. All of these are hurdles that can be overcome and executed with style. This show offers none of that. Again, it's weird to watch. It states that this group of six friends have known each other for all their lives because they've grown up on the same block. But so much of the story is dictated about them having to explain things that should be blatantly obvious to one another at this point. These relationships don't feel lived in. They don't act the way that people are in friendships or romances. It offers no sense of longing for them to reunite and embrace once more before their lives as adults kick into high gear. It's established that they've all spent some time apart at college. They have all essentially graduated or dropped out. They have ambitions that can take them far away from the friends, family and environment they have always known. Again, it has the prospect of being daunting. That can inform the actions to reunite with what has always provided them with comfort. Instead, it's all told as an inevitability. Jimmy and Jill were destined to hook up with each other the moment they saw each other again. It doesn't matter that things ended badly between them previously. It's a connection that must be acted upon. There is no stopping them. And yet, they behave essentially as two strangers who don't understand what's important to the other person. It's a strange way to introduce this coupling as well as the characters themselves. They are basically defined solely by these relationships. Jimmy and Jill have this inevitable connection. Meanwhile, Stacey will jump into her ex-boyfriend Mikey's arms the moment she sees him despite having a boyfriend in the city. There is no rhyme or reason for that behavior. It's simply something that happens. It could not be prevented. Nor is there an explanation for why these bonds are potentially toxic. They all assume that they should grow out of these dynamics. They should embrace more of what the world can offer to them. They want to fight for the connections they have always known. It's just hard for the audience to invest in these relationships because they are so alienated and distant. The narration picks up some charisma and spark when Jimmy's dad enters the picture. Edward Burns stars in the show he also happens to be writing and directing. This is exactly what he wants in every single moment. However, his acting feels out of place with what's happening with the younger cast. And yet, he too fumbles around the dialogue of trying to convince his son that this relationship with Jill is no good. They can't repeat the same patterns. None of it is earned because the audience has no context to see all of these actions. It's a nostalgia play on one hand because it is all set in 1980. That specificity doesn't really bring anything of value to the proceedings though outside of an obvious soundtrack. The pieces of this show don't add up to much. It's all just repetitive dialogue that suggests intimacy while having absolutely no clue what the central focus and drive of the series should be. It's aimless without the specificity and command of that tone to compel the viewer to keep watching regardless. Again, this structure has been done successfully elsewhere. It's just an immediate bust here.