Candy: (Hulu miniseries) Spoiler inside
May 14, 2022 7:43 AM - All Seasons - Subscribe

Candy Montgomery is a 1980s housewife and mother who did everything right - but when the pressure of conformity builds within her, her actions scream for just a bit of freedom. Until someone tells her to shush. With deadly results. (IMDB)

Jessica Biel turns in an amazing performance as Candy Montgomery, with great support from Melanie Lynskey as Betty Gore, Pablo Schreiber as Allan Gore and Timothy Simons as Candy's husband, Pat. There's also a role for Biel's real-life husband, Justin Timberlake, who is almost unrecognisable with his paunchy belly and 80s 'tache. (He apparently did the role for free, because he was so excited about the project.)

The feel of late 70s/early 80s small-town Texas is superbly created, where the husbands were corporate men tied to jobs they found unfulfilling, the wives were home-makers and life revolved around church and PTA, but with the undercurrent of both men and women wanting something more, leading to choices that had devastating consequences.

The locations, sets and costumes are great, apart from a couple of unfortunate wigs, particularly those worn by Pat and Eileen (a friend of Candy's). But I'll forgive the bad wigs because the huge glasses Candy wears are perfect, and the colour palette of orange, brown and beige is spot-on for the era. I'd also forgotten what a truly beautiful song David Soul's "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby" is.

Jessica Biel plays Candy as a woman on the edge, the Queen Bee of her little social group, full of passive-aggressiveness and seething tension, and with her nerves about to snap. And when she snaps, oh boy, does she snap.

As a true crime fan I can't believe I'd never heard of this murder before. The defence and the verdict are, I think reflective of the times, when 'recovered memory' and similar types of pseudo-psychological nonsense were at peak credibility with the public. After watching this I read up on the case and I can't believe she got away with such an implausible defence. Utterly amazing.

This is the first of two series set for release in 2022 about Candy Montgomery. The second is HBO's Love and Death, with Elizabeth Olson (Wandavision) as Candy. It'll be interesting to see how Love and Death compares with Candy, which I found to be an amazing piece of TV.
posted by essexjan (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This was really good but also kind of grim: not so much in a"it's about a grisly murder" way but more the pervasive oppressiveness of its setting. The gloomy underlit brown-ness of all the house interiors! the cliquey social circles!

And the portrayal of Betty as isolated because she doesn't click with the clique: the scene when she approaches the women about her idea for the childrens' choir and they're slightly icily dismissive until Candy extends a sliver of kindness, and then laugh at her the moment she leaves. Ugh.

The little details of the solicitous single neighbor moving in on Allen pretty much immediately after the murder, and of them marrying shortly after the trial; and of Candy playing hooky from class to go dancing in a roadhouse; they all felt so trapped in their suburb.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes, the roadhouse scene was sad and desperate. I was in my early 20s at the time this was set, and I can still remember, despite ten years or more of feminism permeating into many aspects of life, how entrenched gender roles still were, both at home and in the workplace.

I felt sad for Betty too, friendless and isolated and not fitting in with the other wives.
posted by essexjan at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is actually the second time this story has been made into a TV movie; the first, back in 1990, was “A Killing in a Small Town,” with Barbara Hershey as Candy.
posted by holborne at 1:58 PM on May 15, 2022

This miniseries was based on a book co-authored by John bloom better known as Joe Bob Briggs, the host of The Last Drive In on Shudder. Bloom originally wrote about the murder in the Texas Monthly. It was a two part article titled "Love and Death in Silicon Prairie: The Candy Montgomery Affair." Then, Jim Atkinson and Bloom (AKA Briggs) wrote a book together about it titled Evidence of Love.

It's also interested to see Melanie Lynskey kind of come full circle. The first time I saw her was in Heavenly Creatures playing a teenager who murders her mother so she can be with her girlfriend. Now she's the mother being murdered. I loved Biel. The cast was amazing and yeah that 70s decor and costuming was painfully accurate.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Betty saying "But she left my baby" in the court room just broke my heart.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:50 PM on May 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

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