In our social-media obsessed world, Chloe has a message we all need to hear. At its best, it’s a mirror held up to the darkest possible outcomes of truly living through social media platforms. But it’s more than that, it’s an all-too authentic look at what we are all capable of becoming, when we get a little too obsessed with the glossy Instagram lives of friends, family, and complete strangers. Anchored by incredible performances, this series is nothing but a win for Prime Video.
Fans of Netflix’s The Crown hoping to see Erin Doherty imitate her version of Princess Anne will surely be disappointed. Instead, she’s allowed to unleash chaos as Becky Green. Her obsessiveness is equally cringe and enthralling to watch unfold. It’s incredibly relatable, seeing a woman living a life she resents as she scrolls through countless dazzling shots of her friend’s glamourized life. Rather than simply continuing to scroll while sinking deeper into despair like the rest of us, Becky Green is a woman of action in the extreme.
This is a character who fits in perfectly well into the recent long line of stories of real-life swindlers. While Hulu’s The Dropout gave us Amanda Seyfried’s perfectly detestable Elizabeth Holmes, Chloe’s fictional Becky Green is honestly just sad. To be clear, this is the story of a fictional fraudster. She deserves all the consequences she faces, and probably more. However, there’s something heartbreaking about her journey, and seeing just how empty she is in her real life that she must adopt an entirely new persona that she perceives as being more worthy of love.
Chloe is also a poignant meditation on friendship and the contrast between healthy and obsessive relationships. Pippa Bennett-Warner, in particular, absolutely shines as Livia. Her mirrored journey to Becky’s is equally compelling. Livia is such a heartbreaking example of a woman trying to see the best in others who gets consistently underestimated and taken advantage of. While imperfect, she so often tries to do the right thing while so many around her are making the worst possible choices. There was a chance for genuine friendship here, squashed by the pursuit of the idealized version of life rather than accepting reality.
Relatedly, all of the relationships in Chloe are classic examples of enmeshment and codependency. The obsessiveness with the online world created on social media translates uncomfortably well to these characters’ real lives. There’s a commentary here about how unhealthy parasocial relationships created online don’t transfer well to the real world. While the execution of this message may have been imperfect, it’s a timely one. Chloe can hopefully at least prompt some reflection about how much we don’t know about those we primarily follow online. Real people are, more often than not, far more complex than we give them credit for.
The way Chloe blurs the lines between reality and illusion is discombobulating. This tone is maintained throughout all six episodes and highlights the thriller vibe the series tries to capture. Even when the twists are predictable, they only add to the suspense that builds as the series unfolds. This trick can get old fast. However, Chloe succeeds so often because it comes back to the characters themselves.
As the web of deception unravels, it’s almost easy to forget that there’s an actual mystery to be solved. However, the series takes a heartbreaking turn when it comes to solving the tragedy of what actually happened to Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert). There was a real opportunity here to delve into the tragedy of influencer culture and the dehumanization that permeates a society rabid over the parasocial bonds between creators and viewers. Chloe doesn’t totally get there, however.
The fact that this detective storyline itself doesn’t always pan out in a satisfying way isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is disappointing. Perhaps this story was sacrificed in the course of cutting content to fit within a mere six episodes. There was much more to explore, and it felt like it rushed to the inevitable conclusion and discovery. While a six-episode format can be effective for the likes of Marvel (a stretch, maybe, but stay with me), it comes with the hazard of rushing stories and leaving loose ends.
Chloe also had the opportunity to be a powerful commentary on grief and loss. While these themes are certainly introduced, again, six episodes aren’t nearly enough to address them properly. It’s easy enough to connect the dots, however, that those with a gaping hole left in their own life will do anything to fill it, including absorbing aspects of the lives of others easily accessible online. It makes Becky’s journey all the more heartbreaking, considering all the loss she’s faced. In the end, while her actions are never excused, it’s clear that she’s hurting deeply. Rather than mocking her for what is perhaps an objectively less-than-glamorous life, it’s presented as understandable that Becky would seek fulfilment in the lives of others.
Chloe absolutely leaves the door open for further exploration of these stories and characters. One of this show’s greatest strengths is arguably that it can be left as is, a thrilling six-episode romp, or it can be continued. If the series is continued, hopefully, the powers that be focus on the characters and the relationships that made this show deliciously watchable. Specifically, Livia deserves her own season to delve deeper into her character. She is more than capable of carrying the torch of the series. Themes of female friendship could further be explored through how she maintains her inner strength while so many around her are intimidated by her many actual accomplishments.
Like the focal character, Chloe contains multitudes. The great parts are excellent. The weaknesses leave future opportunities for growth. The series is an extreme look at the perils of spending our lives online, vying after the lives of those who show a highly stylized and edited version of their real lives. If nothing else, this series will hopefully prompt us all to spend a little bit of time critically analyzing our social media, and taking the benefits while recognizing the unachievable vision it so often provides.
- Chloe really captures the dreariness of England. I know it’s a British show, but still. You feel like you’re there, and the dampness is slowly invading your entire being.
- I absolutely love the fact that none of the male characters are remotely interesting, with the exception of Brandon Micheal Hall as Josh. Seriously, I love how Chloe made me care not even a tiny bit about any but one of the men. Chloe says women’s rights.
- The outfits in Chloe are phenomenal. Seriously, as the story gets wilder, so too do the outfits. It’s an incredible visual parallel, and I want at least a significant portion of the outfits these characters wear throughout the series.
- Chloe furthers the conspiracy theory that I personally subscribe to, which is that modern art is a vast money-laundering scam, and I love that validation.
- Nothing but respect for Livia, consistently knowing when she needs help with her work-life balance.
Chloe Season 1 is now available on Prime Video.