I love a weird mystery, the weirder the better, and so I was curious when LIMETOWN showed up on one of my streaming services. Based on a podcast of the same name, it chronicles a radio journalist’s exploration of the bizarre violence and mass disappearances occurring at Limetown, a corporate-owned town populated by neuroscientists working on a secret project. The result is Very Serious Fluff, but it’s well put together, well acted by Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci and the rest, and overall delivers a good deal of fun.
Fifteen years ago, a visionary corporate leader with incredible financing built a town and populated it with neuroscientists with the goal of developing a revolutionary technology that might change the world. Instead, the townspeople disappeared, leaving behind signs of panic and violence and otherwise a mystery that was never solved. Fast forward to the present, and public radio journalist Lia Haddock (Biel) is digging into the story to try to find the truth, as she had a strong personal connection in her childhood to one of the people who disappeared.
In each episode, we see Lia uncover clues leading to pieces of the puzzle slowly fitting together until forming a grisly whole. The pacing and reveals are pretty well done, particularly as each person she interviews not only shares information but has interesting side stories to tell that add to the general weirdness and mystery while shedding light on some vital part of it.
Other things I liked: the overarching story that once completed is great, the artistic direction that sets the mood perfectly, the suspenseful pacing, the terrific acting, and an overall titillating experience. Though it relies pretty heavily on convenience and frustratingly vague answers so that Lia only gains the truth drip by drip, the way it all comes together is good storytelling as far as plotting.
The only problem for me was the protagonist. Biel is a stunning woman and has really come into her own as an actor, but I’ve always found her a bit wooden, and the shallowness of the character she portrays does her no favors. Lia’s sole defining characteristic seems to be her obsession and nastiness toward anybody even slightly getting in her way or offending her, and aside from a few weird “broken” traits to appeal to the Gone Girl market and other strange fixations, there’s honestly not much to her, and she comes across as actually unlikable. We know she has a girlfriend, though their relationship goes nowhere and barely serves a purpose other than to provide her a sounding board. We know she has a complicated relationship with her parents, though it’s barely explained or explored. Another grating part of the script is a motif following the TV trend of characters telling female protagonists how smart and awesome they are (for a really good example of this, watch Apple TV’s INVASION). I find smart and awesome female protagonists to be wonderful, but I’m a grownup and don’t need to be told in every episode, just once will do and preferably when it matters, when the protagonist needs to hear it. Otherwise, Lia doesn’t seem to be all that great at her job; she allows vague answers, she abuses coworkers, she’s blatantly unethical in her journalism, and she actually threatens her boss. She’s so Karen, in fact, that during the times she’s nice, I don’t quite believe it.
I haven’t listened to the podcast, which I understand was very popular, but I think my problems with the show stemmed from translation. In a podcast, you can dump creepiness on the listener, and they’ll enjoy it for what it is. When you do the same in a show, you need a protagonist who does more than deliver mystery, you need one the viewer can empathize with. Besides that, for willing suspension of disbelief in the TV medium, you need to flesh out the creepiness so it doesn’t fall apart with some critical thinking. As a result, I found myself enjoying the story of Limetown far more than Lia’s story of discovering the story of Limetown.
Okay, enough bitching on my part. Despite some flaws I found pretty glaring, I did stick it out, and overall I enjoyed it, quite a lot in fact, so much so I’ve found it sticking with me after watching. Recommended for those who like creep and mystery that solidify around a satisfying story coming to light.