LONDON: From the first beats of the first trailer, it’s very clear what “Wilderness” is about – newly married Liv (Jenna Coleman) has discovered her husband’s infidelity and, during a spectacular American road trip, decides to seek revenge in the most definitive way possible. It’s also set to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor’s Version)” so you don’t have to be Benoit Blanc to deduce what’s about to go down.
But then you realize that “Wilderness” is six episodes long, so perhaps there’s more to the story than a simple tale of a scorned woman settling the score?
Well, yes and no. There’s more to learn about Liv’s marriage to handsome, charismatic Will (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), her relationship with her abrasive mother (Claire Rushbrook) and what brought the newlyweds to the US in the first place. There’s more sleuthing for Liv to do as she reveals the extent of Will’s philandering, and there’s some commentary on the trope of the slighted wife and how reductive it can be.
But there certainly isn’t six episode’s worth of material, so “Wilderness” ends up feeling stretched thin in some places, and overly padded in others. Ironically, after congratulating itself for reflexively highlighting how women are always assumed to be the unhinged victims of male misbehavior, the show decides to rob Liv of much of her agency. She’s either reacting to things Will has done, or scrabbling to adjust when his web of lies throws up another curveball.
Coleman is captivating, that’s for sure, but she’s slightly penned in by a character who flits from empowered decisiveness to pleading submissive so easily that it’s hard to get a firm handle on exactly who Liv is. At times, she’s steely and cold, at others she falls foul of many of the tropes “Wilderness” attempts to send up.
“Wilderness” is certainly a gorgeous, stylish show. It’s just a shame that it’s two episodes – and twists – too long.