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Netflix Gems: Top of the Lake

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Columnist Jack Reid returns in the new year, fresh-faced and ready to deliver his latest recommendation. This time up, it’s TV mini-series Top of the Lake. 

In rural southern New Zealand, a twelve year-old schoolgirl is found up to her neck in a lake. She’s pregnant, and she won’t say a word about what happened to her. A couple of days later, she disappears completely. In Top Of The Lake, we follow Detective Griffin’s investigations into what happened to young Tui. Griffin (played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) is herself a victim of some of the evil characters that occupy the Kiwi hinterland, and she has little patience for the constant mistreatment of women that’s endemic in the community.

Image Credits - FlavorWire
Image Credits – FlavorWire

I won’t give away much more than that, because I can’t. I’m only three episodes into Top Of The Lake, and I’m absolutely hooked. There is so much to surprise the viewer in every episode. Perhaps its the antipodean setting that I’m just not familiar with, but everything seems really incongruous and bizarre. Take, for example, the bunch of women living in shipping containers down by the water. It’s something I’ve never heard of before in my life, but it really adds a lot to the dynamic of the show.

The cast of characters in this remote setting is surprisingly diverse. You’ve got a Scotsman, two East Asian characters, an Austrian, and a Swiss-American, all alongside the New Zealanders. It makes for a really fascinating mix and it also adds to the disorientating feel of the show (the Scot is the hardest to understand, go figure). The show also makes the physical landscape of New Zealand look bleak but incredible. At times, I wonder if the show was funded by the NZ Tourism Board, but then I remember how negatively the show paints the locals.

I’m still far from reaching the end of the mystery, so I can’t tell you how satisfyingly it pays off. I can only really suggest that you jump on board and try to figure out what the hell is going on.

Jack Reid, Online Screen Columnist

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