TV Review: “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window”

The Winonan’s guest reviewer rates “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” 3/5 stars.

The Winonan’s guest reviewer rates “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” 3/5 stars.

McKenna Scherer, editor-in-chief

Yes, this television miniseries’ title is a mouthful and a half. However, it is humorous if you recognize the satirical jab the title and the show’s premise take at other thriller films like “The Woman in the Window”, a previous Netflix work from 2021, “The Girl on the Train”, Tate Taylor’s 2016 film starring Emily Blunt, Alfred Hitchock’s “Rear Window”, and others.

“The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” (oof–read that five times fast) is directed by Michael Lehmann, who also directed the 1989 cult-classic film “Heathers”. The miniseries stars Kristen Bell as both narrator and lead, Michael Ealy (“2 Fast 2 Furious”, “The Perfect Guy”), and Cameron Britton (“Mindhunter”, “The Umbrella Academy”) among others. The show hit Netflix profiles on Jan. 28, 2022, taking its place at #1 on Netflix’s “Trending” section following its release.

While the show is primarily a parody on similarly titled psychological thrillers, it still held its own, in my eyes, as a completely binge-worthy watch, clocking in at under four hours with eight episodes (yes, I did finish it all in one Sunday afternoon).

The miniseries follows Anna, played by Bell, a woman who has seemingly given up her painting career in lieu of full-time wine drinking, novel reading and people watching after the loss of her eight-year-old daughter, which subsequently ended her marriage to Douglas, a forensic psychiatrist for the FBI, played by Ealy.

The main plot of the show kicks off after Anna, a few full-to-the-brim glasses of red wine deep, sees what appears to be an attempted murder in the house directly across the street where new neighbors have recently moved in. After frantically calling 911, she tries to run across the street, but falls face-first in the middle of the road due to her ombrophobia–fear of the rain.

As we learn the startling and tragic cause of Anna’s daughter’s death, we also learn the origin of Anna’s ombrophobia, which comes into play several times throughout the show. We also watch Anna struggle with hallucinations–including one instance of her believing she needs to drop her now-deceased daughter off at school–likely caused by her mixing of several prescribed medications with wine.

Although Anna has a therapist she speaks with on the phone, she rarely does so, and frequently lies about her alcohol abuse to the therapist, her friends and nosey neighbors. This makes Anna an unreliable narrator, adding to the suspense and “who-dunnit” aspect of the show.

After collapsing in the street while trying to get to her neighbor’s house, Anna wakes up in her own home again to the police having arrived at the scene. However, the police inform Anna that there was, seemingly, no murder across the street. After finding Anna’s wine spilt and a thriller novel beside it, all perched next to the chair Anna sits in while people watching from her house’s front window, the police have little reason to take Anna’s account of events seriously.

The neighbor’s house in question belongs to the newly moved-in father-daughter duo, Neil (Tom Riley) and nine-year-old Emma Coleman (Samsara Yett, “Don’t Look Up”, “The Flight Attendant”). Of course, Anna had immediately developed an affection towards Emma, who reminds her of her late daughter, and an attraction towards Neil, a middle-aged widower, who she begins to investigate following the police’s dismissal. We know that up to this point, Anna has had little interaction with the outside world since her daughter’s death and divorce with her ex-husband, and Anna cannot help but to fixate on the newcomers.

However, as with just about every character in the show, the Colemans prove to have more to them and their pasts, especially after Anna believes she witnessed the murder of Neil’s girlfriend from across the street.

We watch Anna struggle to make others take her seriously, as the whole neighborhood knows of her drinking, while sleuthing on her own to prove she witnessed a murder. With Bell leading with a relatable wit and charm that makes viewers like and root for her, even while we can’t be sure her narration can be trusted, skillful cinematography takes the show to a heightened level too (hat-tip to cinematographer John W. Lindley (“Field of Dreams”, “You’ve Got Mail”)).

As Anna begins to dig deeper and deeper into her neighbors’ pasts, new storylines emerge to further cloud all that we as viewers thought we knew. The truly unexpected twist at the end of the show reveals whether or not Anna witnessed any kind of altercation in her neighbor’s home or not, and we are left wondering what Anna will get up to next, as the season ends with a door left open to a possible second season.

Netflix has not announced whether or not they will continue the show with a new season, although Bell has publicly said she would be open to continue playing the lead. With mixed critical reviews and public opinion, you will have to give the satirical thriller miniseries a go for yourself. This streaming-binger rates the new release 3 out of 5 stars.