Apple TV+ has flown somewhat under the radar in the streaming wars. There are some high-profile names on the service, like Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, and Chris Evans, but that’s not all they have. While looking for something to watch last month, I stumbled upon Home Before Dark.
This show is about Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) who wants to be a reporter like her father, Matthew (Jim Sturgess). After Matthew loses his job, they move from Brooklyn to his childhood home in Washington. It’s there that Hilde discovers a secret that has plagued the town for decades and involves her father.
As they are currently filming season 2 (well, they will be continuing to film once the restrictions are lifted!), here are a few reasons why you should watch the first season!
A Perfect Mix of Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, and Veronica Mars
Home Before Dark is a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, even though it’s set in modern times. Basically, Hilde is a new Harriet the Spy, but without the bullying. She constantly observes what’s going on in her new town and writes about it, even if it means getting involved in something she didn’t expect.
All three of the heroines listed are pretty similar on the surface, but their respective stories are not, which is why I’m including them all here. It does a better job of conveying the tone I imagine the CW’s Nancy Drew is trying to do right now, without the supernatural stuff. But it’s closer to a younger-skewing Veronica Mars with its noir vibes. It’s a show that can be watched by younger kids and adults. I never felt like it was dumbed down by immature humor or that it talked down to anyone.
Another reason I include Veronica Mars in this assessment because the relationship between Hilde and Matthew reminds me so much of Veronica and Keith. Hilde isn’t as cynical as Veronica, mostly because she hasn’t experienced enough yet. Her eyes slowly are opened up to real injustice in the world, but she refuses to give up hope that good will prevail. It’s such a beautiful message.
A (Mostly) Supportive Family Environment
What you normally don’t see in mystery shows or even the titles listed above is an actual family unit. Hilde is lucky to not only have her parents still be together, and although they are dealing with a new, unfamiliar situation, they have each other’s backs. Their relationship has a strong foundation, and it’s refreshing to see a somewhat functional family in a mystery story.
Hilde also has two sisters. If anything, the most family drama is between Hilde and her older sister, Izzy (Kylie Rogers). As a middle child, some of these scenes were tough. Izzy just wants to fit into this new town, and Hilde is ruining every chance for her to do so. But at the end of the day, Izzy is her sister’s fierce protector. It rings true for sister relationships, and I love being able to see that on screen. Hilde always has someone to turn to, and it’s great to see in this genre.
An Intriguing Mystery
When Matthew was a child, one of his best friends was abducted and presumed dead. The town believes they caught the man who did it, but as Hilde starts to look into the case, a lot doesn’t add up.
I love mysteries, even though I’m not very good at figuring out who did it or anything. Home Before Dark was extremely well-plotted. While a case like this normally falls into some problematic tropes, this show contained a lot of twists that ultimately led to a masterful final reveal.
What’s also great is that Hilde’s discoveries were very methodical. I never felt like she couldn’t figure this information out on her own. She played to her strengths and managed to gain trust of a lot of individuals who also wanted to learn the real truth.
The Cast, Especially Brooklynn Prince
Prince broke out in The Florida Project, but I hadn’t seen her in anything prior to this. She is an incredible actress. The whole show rests on her little shoulders, and I’m extremely impressed. In fact, all the kids are amazing. Her friends, Donny (Jibrail Nantambu) and Spoon (Deric McCabe), are delightful. I’ve already mentioned how much I love Izzy above. It’s impeccably well-cast with the younger actors.
And the adult actors! I was so excited to see Joelle Carter in a new project after Justified, and she was so perfect as the no-nonsense principal. Sturgess and Abby Miller are Hilde’s parents also are so great. But my favorite character has to be Mackenzie “Trip” Johnson (Aziza Scott), the officer that befriends Hilde and helps her even though it could ruin her career.
How the adults are written is important because they spend time somewhat humoring Hilde during her investigation, but then wind up being impressed at how much she can accomplish. Is this always realistic? Not entirely, but at least Hilde is punished for some of her actions. This is a testament to the actors behind the characters.
Have I piqued your interest in Home Before Dark? Let us know below! What have you been watching during this quarantine period?