Reviews - April/May 2024

18 Apr 2024


Starring Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, Sarayu Blue, Jack Huston  •  Amazon Prime Video  •  Four Stars 
We’ve been inundated with an abundance of streaming content for quite some time. Consequently, I’ve adopted an approach to television akin to books – relying on recommendations and past enjoyment. So, when a friend mentioned “Expats,” we decided to give it a shot, mainly for Nicole Kidman, acclaimed for her roles in HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers.” Settling in after dinner in early February, I tuned in to Kidman’s latest endeavor on Prime Video.

The narrative unfolds in Hong Kong, and I anticipated gaining insights into Chinese culture. However, a few episodes in, that expectation remained unfulfilled. Instead, “Expats” showcased familiar Kidman territory – portraying a sorrowful, emaciated mother and wife, along with quintessential American elements like dinner parties, scandalous affairs, and opulent apartments.

Despite the initial inclination to dismiss “Expats,” I soon found myself engrossed. The central mystery, the disappearance of three-year-old Gus, weighs heavily on both his mother, Margaret (Kidman), and his former Korean-American nanny, Mercy (Yoo), who was caring for Gus when he went missing. Complicating matters further, Mercy is romantically involved with Margaret’s neighbor, David.

Continuing to watch, I recognized that the anticipated strengths of the show – Kidman’s display of versatility and intriguing glimpses into Chinese culture – had evolved into different virtues. The portrayal of Mercy’s profound sense of loss and melancholy elicited unexpected emotions from the audience. “Expats” also commendably provides perspective on how individuals behave incongruently with their emotions – the woman hosting a party with a smile might be enduring personal suffering.

“Expats” excels in illustrating how people grapple with trauma without resorting to therapy, medications, or any form of emotional moderation. The series starkly exposes the raw truth of coping with loss while feigning normalcy.

Upon reflection, you might question what new insights “Expats” could offer – aren’t these life lessons commonplace? Yet, I contend that all human stories revolve around love, death, or a fusion of both in myriad forms. While “Expats” may initially appear as a familiar narrative, a closer look might reveal a deeper understanding of your neighbors or even yourself.

Coming Home 
My all-time favorite dance club song is “Yeah!” — I cannot hear it without busting out a little boogie. So, naturally, I fervently hoped that Usher’s newest single, Coming Home, would get me up and out of my office chair. First, I checked out “Risk it All,” a sexy ballad featuring the artist H.E.R. Not bad for a romantic night in, but definitely not the mood I wanted. Similarly, “Ruin,” another collaboration featuring the artist Pheelz, didn’t give me the self-centered Usher that I’d been pining for. I guess he grew up. And it’s not exactly my thing.

Sheryl Crow 
Another artist I loved in the 1990s, Sheryl Crow, has returned for a fresh round, but in a better way than our friend Usher. Evolution is Crow’s 12th studio album, and I’m here for these throwback-friendly jams. “Alarm Clock” features the catchy, tongue-in-cheek lyrics we loved back when Crow sang “All I Wanna Do,” and the title track, “Evolution,” is another sing-along gem. Pop this one in the car and pretend the last two decades were a dream.

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