Is Netflix’s The Woman in the House… Meant To Be Serious?

Is Netflix’s The Woman in the House… Meant To Be Serious?
Image: Netflix

Netflix has a new mystery TV show that’s been getting a lot of attention lately, and not just because it has a very long and stupid name.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, yep, full title, stars Kristen Bell who plays Anna Whitaker, a woman mourning the loss of her eight-year-old daughter.

Here’s the Netflix synopsis:

“For heartbroken Anna, every day is the same. She sits with her wine, staring out the window, watching life go by without her. But when a handsome neighbour and his adorable daughter move in across the street, Anna starts to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That is until she witnesses a gruesome murder… Or did she?”

And the trailer:

 

As our friends over at the AV Club point out, its long title is a witty wink to the genre it attempts to parody: psychological thrillers like The Girl On The Train and The Woman In The Window

The fact The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is a parody, however, has been lost on so many. But is that because it does it so well or because it could very easily be another thriller, blended with the cheesiness so present in the slasher genre? Well, both.

The eight-part TV series opens with Bell sitting on a lounge talking in a British accent. It’s awful and I immediately went to message my girlfriends, ‘Ever like an actress but when they attempt an accent you know they don’t have, it sounds awful and could ruin a movie/show?’. Thankfully, Bell canned the accent before I could even hit send.

The premise isn’t not the same formula found in other thrillers. Woman loses child, woman stops painting, marriage breaks up, woman sad, woman becomes alcohol-dependent, woman gets new mysterious neighbour, woman falls for neighbour, woman witnesses murder, woman isn’t believed and goes to solve murder herself and is swept up in lies and deceit and dodgy letterbox repairmen. Iconic. Bell’s character suffers from “ombrophobia”, a fear of rain, and takes pills with red wine, which causes her to hallucinate. She also cooks a lot of chicken casseroles and reads books with titles like The Woman Across the Lake and The Girl on the Cruise.

I will admit that I didn’t initially realise The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window was a parody. I just thought it was a little stupid. The show is tedious at times, however. It actually feels like it forgets it’s a parody.

Of course there’s hints to other parodies, such as scenes where Bell is painting and it could easily be Janey Briggs from Not Another Teen Movie or the sheer fact Bell’s daughter died at the hands of a serial killer in a severely underwhelming way. There’s also Buell, who has been fixing Bell’s letterbox for years (OK, Scream).

It’s not funny ha-ha. It’s not Scary Movie. But that seems to be the source of some confusion: how can it be a parody if it isn’t funny? The horror/thriller genre is self-referential/self-aware as a trope, in addition to cheesy, so it’s easy to forget The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is a parody because it’s so reminiscent of other movies in the genre.

Bell is great, her co-cast are, too. I got the occasional giggle out of it and there’s a decent bunch of plot twists at the end. I binged all eight episodes in one sitting when I turned on the TV looking for something to watch just while I ate. It’s a terrible show, but that’s the point. As a fan of psychological thrillers, it was kinda nice to have a comedy one.