3 March 2015 | cherold
A Beautiful Place Full of Horrible Men
Season One Review: I've been looking at the reviews of the first season of this series, and I feel most of the negative ones are from people who simply wanted a very different show. There are inexplicable comparisons with Twin Peaks and complaints about the quality of the mystery, as though this is a series in which the central mystery is the selling point.
It's not a classic mystery story, but neither is it meant to be (and neither was Twin Peaks, so when people complain it's not a good mystery "like Twin Peaks" I am profoundly puzzled). Instead it is the exploration of a created world. The story is shambling, with odd strings that seem untethered, but so is life. Yes, you could strip out Holly Hunter's brilliant performance as a down-to-earth guru, toss out Robin's mother, toss out all sorts of things, and you could have a short, standard mystery, but why would you want to do that?
Top of the Lake is a fascinating look at a brutal, beautiful world. The beauty comes from the landscape, the brutality from the men, who are remarkably awful. I can see why some people would complain about a show where almost every man is a monster, except for a couple of crazy ones and one passably nice guy. It doesn't bother me, but it's the one criticism I've read that I wouldn't argue against.
The show is not about the mystery but about character. There is enough mystery and plot to keep that part involving, but this is more about Robin's inner struggles and outer determination and passion than anything else.
I wish more of the reviewers here talked about the mini-series that exists instead of the one they wanted.
Season Two review: I had though Top of the Lake was a mini-series and was surprised there *was* a season two. It is less scenic and even grimmer than the first season. There is more grit and less quirk, but there is still the complexity of character and the dark view of male-female interactions (i.e. a lot of the men are jerks).
It was interesting, but not so much that I'm eager for a third season.