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TV REVIEW: Say Goodbye To Everything You Knew In Twisted’s “A Tale Of Two Confessions”

By on April 3, 2014

Photo by: ABC FAMILY/Andrew Eccles

No one wants to sound like a broken record. No one wants to talk about a show’s narrative that they no longer believe in. No one wants to not like something they once really enjoyed.

But that’s where Twisted has left viewers in its Season 1B finale. Through a series of missteps the show has essentially buried itself. Season 1A wasn’t perfect, but there were foundations of an exciting and titillating teen murder mystery that deserved a time slot behind the network’s golden child Pretty Little Liars.

It had a core set of actors who not only created genuine and compelling characters, but whose chemistry alone could carry the show. While the mystery premise and dark edge made Twisted exciting, storylines that played with social commentary and the moral grey area of the human experience made it intelligent. It was a rather ambitious concept, but an intriguing and certainly executable one.

However, with steady precision this show began to unwind. Season 1A ended in a weird place with high intensity but sloppily executed narrative turns. It was okay though because the actors and the idea of this trio’s friendship could ultimately save it. Flash forward and we are now at the finale of Season 1B. Danny’s a supporting character, Lacey’s a special guest, and the narrative is concentrated on Jo — whose erratic and dramatic personality somehow charms everyone out of addressing her sometimes absurd and inappropriate behavior.

In a show with two female leads we watch as the story dodges building their relationship, preferring to focus on pitting them against each other in an unnecessary and careless love triangle. A love triangle that, even when it first started, actually involved its main trio. But as time went on the love triangle dropped a character it had centralized from the beginning, choosing to shift its focus to Jo, Danny and Charlie. Oddly enough it did this after Season 1A made the concerted effort to draw a platonic line between two members of this new triangle.

In the process of Jo’s centralization we almost lose Lacey entirely. While Jo originally played on the awkward outsider trope, Lacey was the embodiment of the “popular” girl. Torn between the life she had built after being marked as a social outcast and a lingering desire to reclaim her stolen childhood Lacey had the makings of a complicated and relatable character played rather wonderfully by Kylie Bunbury. She was also established as Danny’s love interest from day one making a triangle virtually unnecessary. The hope was that they were going to be a trio though, regardless of who Danny liked or didn’t.

Because this wasn’t about who Danny liked. Twisted was about the toughness of growing up, about being who we are at a time when social pressure is already high… and when you have a serial killer as a best friend.  After the bomb of Jo always being the one, it’s safe to assume the show had other plans. Season 1B’s finale left Tess with a bigger plotline than a main trio member while her daughter’s questionable harem grew. It became clear how much Lacey was as an afterthought (with a mishandled lgbt storyline ironically similar to that of her father) when Jo and Danny finally admitted their feelings.

Meanwhile, the Mastersons have been consumed by finding Vikram’s killer and an abandoned baby arc that sprouted up like a weed, eating screen time and leaving nothing for viewers to desire. Yes, there was that “wonderfully” uncomfortable twist of Charlie being Jo’s half brother, but why did we go there again? What does this have to do with three teenagers being friends and shirking off social labels to be who they want to be? What does this have to do with our perceptions of people and how we feed into a nasty culture of limiting and damaging stereotypes?

Karen — who had a complex relationship with her son waiting to be further explored — ended up as a device for Jack’s devious plans. Most disappointingly, a single mother struggling to rebuild and protect her family has ended up a love hungry sucker with a weak spot for douchey men. As Karen is hacked off at the knees, Jack has been elevated by the narrative, but just like Whitney he’s only a reminder of the significant supporting 1A characters that dropped out of existence without a decent explanation. In addition, their presence further solidifies the missed potential storylines for Lacey who perhaps took the biggest punch with Season 1B’s wild narrative deviation.

Now would seem like a rather appropriate time to discuss Lacey’s family and by that I mean the lack of them. From the get they had a smaller screen presence than the other two families. However, the potential to explore varying familial formulas, as well as how that affects growing up, appeared to be solidified with the divorced parents set up. Shortly after their appearance though they were gone. Lacey’s sidelining coffin was nailed shut by their continued nonexistence in Season 1B, coupled with a missing sister at her own birthday party and a father “outed” for the sake of a friendship the show clearly doesn’t care about. So we’re clear, we saw more of Whitney’s mother in 1B than we saw of Judy Porter.

Ultimately the most interesting thing about this season ended up being Charlie and his twists. Jack Falahee did a superb job carrying the dark-sided, stunted and mildly deranged character through the season. Even Charlie presents a problem though. The morally questionable, semi-scary character in this series wasn’t supposed to be him. It was supposed to be Danny. Danny, whose storylines now keep him more busy than Lacey but still manage to be just as uninteresting and unnecessary. Not to mention they all end up centering on or serving as a gateway to Jo’s development. The show made a shoddy choice in tying up the Aunt Tara and Regina mysteries almost straight out of the Season 1B gate, leaving itself very little backbone.

The decision proved to lack any substantial pay off as we watched weird twist after weird twist lead us to a finale moment that frankly fell below flat. It was a “Who Shot JR” where I don’t care who, or if anyone really, was shot. Not only that, but the continuity errors and narrative questions that sprung from Charlie’s big reveal are enough to make your head spin. How did Tara hide a son? Why did Tara agree to adopt Tess’ child? Why if these people are so rich did he end up in foster care? Wasn’t Tess’ baby supposed to be a girl? Why wasn’t Regina, the girl at the center of the mystery with all the secrets, the half-sibling?

The show with “solid performances from nearly the entire cast” and strong themes of “loyalty, standing by what’s right, and the most emotionally provoking: the ripple effect childhood violence can have on a person, a family, and a community” is gone. What we’re left with is a show that barely knows its characters, lacks a sense of narrative priority, and has wasted an astonishingly large amount of talent to be… well, a hack job. It’s sad that a promising narrative shot itself in the foot.


  1. Dawn

    April 3, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Perfect review! You have successfully voiced the opinion of many viewers. Thus, the ratings demise over this second half of the season. I applaud your candor about the reality of how Twisted squandered away such a talented cast for such poor story telling. What seemed like a rare gem in the making soon lost its shine in 1B. Yes, 1A was with faults. But ultimately those faults could easily be fixed with time and effort put in by the writing staff. Yet, those faults were only broadened in 1b and the character and story became so convoluted that I didn’t recognize the characters or where certain story lines came from.

    Thanks again for a very true and thought out review.

  2. Ivy

    April 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Abbie, this review is golden. You have skillfully deconstructed the myriad ways in which Twisted went from one of the most promising and innovative YA shows ever, to a complete travesty, in half a season. Thank you for strong and insightful reviews on Twisted for the past year — your analyses have been consistently on point and even helped viewers better understand/articulate their concerns and feelings about the show. I hope the network/show execs have been paying attention as well because week after week you’ve nailed it.

    • Catherine

      April 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      ^ what Ivy said!

  3. Miranda

    April 3, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Thank you for the review. I agree 100 percent!!

  4. Sarah TX

    April 3, 2014 at 5:17 am

    *Standing Ovation*** This is seriously one of the best and honest reviews i’ve read.God, I could hug you for addressing the issues my friends and I having been tweeting about since 1A.

  5. DimplesValntina

    April 3, 2014 at 7:37 am

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for such an insightful and thorough review of what has caused the destruction of the show. It lost its uniqueness and dropped the original premise of the trio’s friendship reconnection to became formulaic instead.

    Must every friendship trio be a love triangle? I would have loved to have seen the friends navigate the differences in the dynamics of how they interact at age 16 versus the connection they had at age 11. What changed, what remained the same especially when they were now at varying social positions in life. What would each learn from each other?

    This could have been better explored to let the audience root for the survival of the friendship – NOT for pitting fan bases against each other….battles fueled by inane show hashtags, diminishing value of two of the leads, and the steady erasure of the premise of a “16 yr old boy who reconnects with his 2 best friends”.

    Also gone were core behavioral traits of Danny in 1A versus in 1B – even stress and guilt shouldn’t take away the essence/moral fiber of the character. Yes, the show missed a rich opportunity to explore the mother/son dynamic. People enjoyed the few poignant moments between Karen and Danny (when shown). Fans missed 1A’s interesting group of school kids who could have explored their continued reactions/possible growth towards the trio’s friendship rekindling.

    Pity that the show went from twisted to tragic.

  6. Pat

    April 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Well said!!!

  7. Birch Barlow

    April 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Sad that in a show featuring two people of colour in lead roles everything had to come back to the towering perfection of the white girl. Perish the thought that a black girl could be the undisputed romantic lead and don’t even suggest that there could be a boy alive who is immune to the power of waves of blonde. So write the girl out of her own story, how could she possibly matter, she doesn’t even have a peaches and cream complexion–that’s how you know a person doesn’t have any value, right? And have the (erstwhile) lead character return like a panting dog to irritating little miss who swats his nose with a degree of force that varies according to who she’d like to be kissing at any moment. Young man, where is your dignity? I guess it really has always been her, like things are always about the ‘hers’, huh? Typical. I could menstruate a better story than that.

  8. sylvia

    April 5, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Beautiful and succinct. I couldn’t have articulated it any better.

  9. TV Fan

    April 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    This is exactly why the show should be cancelled. So many people viewed this show with a critical eye and saw it for exactly what it was. I am really proud of the way viewers challenged the writers and hopefully they contacted the network as well. What really alarmed me was the distribution of the hashtags. Someone provided a breakdown and stated that Lacey was only involved in 2, which proves that there is an underlying message. One female was valued over the other and we were not supposed to feel any sympathy for the Lacey character. Why?

    The actual mystery plot was ignored to focus on one character and the unrealistic notion that every male should fall at her feet for some reason. It would had have worked better if the “love” triangle was non-existent and Vikram should not have been killed off. The plot would have benefited from him being that elusive key or answer that was always one step ahead of those who were searching for a resolution. Vikram’s ambiguous nature and motives could have been capitalized upon as a direct parallel to his son.

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