Defending Jacob is streaming now on Apple TV.
How far would you go to protect your child? And when does doubt begin to cloud the once perfect image you had of your son or daughter? Of course, these questions are nothing new in the crowded marketplace of crime drama, with several recent British shows covering the same subject matter, from A Mothers Son to Born to Kill. However, Defending Jacob manages to transcend the familiarity of its story by dovetailing crime drama with a powerful and unrelenting character study of three family members. Here Defending Jacob exudes a rare psychological complexity as we watch a teenager, Jacob, face the challenge of perceived guilt as fragile bonds of love, trust and security are threatened. However, is everything as it initially seems? And do parents really know what goes on in the minds of their children?
Based on the novel by William Landay, Defending Jacob is somewhat rare in American television, as it embraces the style of the taut and dark Nordic crime drama’s we have come to love. Here its eight-episode run opts for a slow and steady pace as the mystery deepens and the fragility of a family is laid bare. This allows some exquisite character development, as the show avoids the usual American crime drama rush into action or simple solutions.
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We join the show just as the small town of Newton, Massachusetts, is rocked by the grim discovery of a local teenagers body. Step in family man, District Attorney and all-around nice guy Andy Barber (Chris Evans) as the lead detective. However, when Andy’s son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) becomes the prime suspect in the case, he is swiftly removed from duty. And over the following days, weeks and months, Andy and his wife Laurie (Michelle Dockery) find themselves forced to explore their deepest fears as they strive to protect the son they have comforted, cared for and loved unconditionally. But within every marriage, secrets often lie beneath the surface. And within every teenager, hidden adult experiences bubble away unseen by parents.
From the outset, Defending Jacob shines in its ability to pull the audience into its web of lies, intrigue and truths, with each delicious episode leaving you wanting more. Here the ripples of a local murder build into a wave of confusion and doubt. However, within the complexity of its character studies, this drama truly stands out from the crowd as Martell, Evans, and Dockery keep you glued to the screen. Here we witness the social, personal, and community security of one family slowly unravel in an ocean of despair as we embark on a complex journey into belief, doubt, secrets and lies.
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Director: Morten Tyldum