FX network has produced some edgy binge-worthy programming. Premiering last summer, The Bridge was thrown into the mix with a couple of unorthodox protagonists. Here’s why we think you’ll want to get invested in these three-dimensional characters’ lives and cross on over The Bridge into binge-land.
What’s the premise? A body is found on the Bridge of the Americas, half in El Paso, TX and half in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The show follows one American detective (Diane Kruger) and one Mexican detective (Demian Bichir) as they investigate a serial killer tormenting people on both sides of the Mexican/American border.
What’s it like? A moody detective drama, with complicated characters a la True Detective, The Bridge has a filmic sensibility with a continuous arc lasting the full season. It’s a whodunit, but more than that, it’s an intense, dark, moody character-driven drama.
Where can I see it? Season two premieres Wednesday, July 9 on FX and season one is now available in its entirety on Hulu Plus. Amazon Instant Video and iTunes are also showing season one. And it’s available on DVD/Blu-Ray.
How long will it take? This Bridge takes about thirteen or so hours to cross. Thirteen episodes in season one means you can cover it in a weekend or even a day. Episodes are roughly an hour.
What do the critics think? Season one pleased most critics, earning it a Certified Fresh score of 90 percent. They admire the smart mystery, the well-developed characters and the acknowledgement of cultural differences. Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly said, “You know you’re watching a great serial-killer mystery when the serial killer is the least interesting part,” and Verne Gay of Newsday called it “highly absorbing.” Cynthia Fuchs of PopMatters assured us that “even as all of these seeming oppositions are set up, the show insists on the blurring of lines, the bridges as well as the borders.” Other critics commend the narrative itself. Brian Tallerico of HollywoodChicago.com said, “It unfolds like a great novel,” and Hank Stuever of the Washington Post wrote, “It has a seamless and almost hypnotic quality to its narrative, and it’s easily one of the best debuts [of 2013].”
Why should I watch this? The portrayals of deeply conflicted characters played by Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger bring extra depth to the compelling scripts. These are atypical television protagonists. Kruger’s character, Sonya Cross, is a great cop, who just happens to have Asperger’s syndrome. The condition is never spoken of — a brave choice by the show’s creators — and is shown simply and straightforward, with no sense of lecturing or need to explain. Marco Ruiz (Bichir) is a different sort of hero, a conflicted soul who can anger us and make us care for him all in one episode. He, too, is good at his job. But his poor life choices take a severe toll on him and his family. The first season may feel slow, but just know that it’s building up to something big.
What’s my next step? True Detective is an obvious choice for fans of The Bridge to enjoy. But watching the Scandinavian TV show that The Bridge was based on, Broen, would be a great place to go from here. It’s the same storyline, but based at the Denmark/Sweden border. Those who enjoy the whodunit serials may want to watch TNT’s Major Crimes and its predecessor The Closer with Kyra Sedwick. If reality is more your speed, there’s always Cold Justice through which we follow two amazing female investigators as they travel to smaller towns around the U.S. to solve real cold case murders. Monk profiles a detective who is dealing with the obstacles of a mental illness (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder); it’s a much lighter show, but worth a watch. HBO’s brand new The Leftovers is a character-driven thriller/drama. The film Take Shelter, while not a murder mystery, deals with a man seemingly spiraling his way out of society and how his family deals with it. It’s Certified Fresh at 92 percent. And the new season of The Bridge, of course, begins July 9 on FX.
For more TV news, visit the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone.