Guilt, Freeform’s new summer drama, bears a striking resemblance to the real life case of Amanda Marie Knox, the American student who spent almost four years in an Italian prison following the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher.
Following a trial that hit headlines worldwide and featured lurid details leaked to press from the prosecution, Knox was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of Cassation following years of incarceration.
Like the Amanda Knox story, Guilt sees a naive American student, Grace Atwood, plunged into a nightmare scenario when, while studying abroad in London, her roommate and best friend Molly is brutally murdered.
While the British police suspect Grace of the crime, a number of other suspects soon make themselves known, including Grace’s French boyfriend Luc Pascal, Grace’s wealthy and charming stepfather, a professor at her university with whom she had an illicit relationship, and even the sadistic, bondage-loving (and perhaps only true fictional character among the lot) Prince Theo.
“With a case this dirty, there’s plenty of guilt to go around,” as Grace’s lawyer, played with gusto by Billy Zane, comments.
Guilt is perfect summer fare for a recently rebranded Network anxious to ditch its cosy “family” image in favour of edgier material. Expect sex, drugs, tearful confessions and quantities of blood spatter in addition to a raw performance from the series’ young lead Daisy Head, who excels in the role of a grief and panic stricken young woman thrust into the limelight by a foreign tabloid press.
The London backdrop will either please or annoy some viewers (Guilt, a co-production of Sea to Sky Entertainment — Lionsgate Television’s Canadian joint venture with Thunderbird Films — and BV Family Productions, was filmed on location in London), but overall we found it didn’t detract from what’s best about the show, which is its intimate exploration of guilt in its many forms.
Guilt stars Billy Zane (Titanic), Daisy Head (The Syndicate), Emily Tremaine (Vinyl), Cristian Solimeno (Rush), Naomi Ryan (Guardians of the Galaxy), Kevin Ryan (Copper), Simona Brown (The Casual Vacancy), Zachary Fall (Crossing Lines), and newcomer Sam Cassidy.
The series is written, created and executive-produced by Kathryn Price and Nichole Millard (The Game Plan). Todd Slavkin (Defiance) and Darren Swimmer (Defiance) serve as writing executive producers. Stephen McPherson serves as executive producer with Gary Fleder (Kingdom, Scorpion) and Larry Shaw (Desperate Housewives) as executive producer directors.
Freeform describes the series as follows:
The definition of guilt is being responsible for wrongdoing or a crime. In the murder of Molly Ryan, many are guilty in different ways, but only one is truly guilty of her murder.
When Natalie’s sister Grace becomes the prime suspect in her roommate Molly’s murder and a popular target for the press and in social media, Natalie leaves her life in Boston and heads to London to defend her.
With the help of an ethically questionable ex-pat lawyer Stan Gutterie, Natalie starts to question how innocent her sister may really be as more ugly truths start to emerge.
The investigation twists through many layers of London society – from a posh but depraved sex club, all the way up to the Royal Family itself.
Guilt premieres Monday June 13 (9:00–10:00 p.m. EDT), on Freeform.
In the meantime catch a first look at the cast in our gallery below.