Inverse Recommends

Lily Gladstone is the Saving Grace of Hulu’s Chilling New True-Crime Series

The Oscar-nominated actress elevates a familiar true-crime story.

Inverse Recommends

At this point, the true-crime genre is well-worn territory. There’s no stone that hasn’t been unturned, no story beats that haven’t been overused. A tragedy rocks a small town, a young girl’s life is senselessly taken, the killers are found. But our collective sense of morbid curiosity about the unexplained, and the darkness lurking on society's edge cannot be quenched. Thus enters the latest true-crime thriller, Hulu’s chilling if familiar Under the Bridge.

Under the Bridge has a few intriguing details going for it. The story is based on the murder of a teen girl in Canada, whose brutal beating at the hands of her classmates in 1997 instigated a moral panic over girl violence, a phenomenon culturally specific enough to be new to American viewers. The troubled teens at the center of the mystery also make for compelling antagonists, and feel cut from the same cloth as the dark wallflowers of HBO’s all-time great thriller series Sharp Objects. But the strongest aspect of Under the Bridge is star Lily Gladstone, fresh from her Oscar nomination for Killers of the Flower Moon, and proving that she’s one of our greatest contemporary screen presences.

Based on the book of the same name by Rebecca Godfrey, Under the Bridge follows Reena Virk (Vritika Gupta), a bullied Canadian teenager desperate to befriend the chainsmoking, Biggie-worshipping girls living at the Seven Oaks foster home. But after she’s rebuffed by their ring leader, Josephine (Chloe Guidry), a girl who idolizes mob boss John Gotti (yes, really), Reena steels Josephine’s diary and spreads nasty rumors about her. This leads to a confrontation at a party, and a chase that leads to Reena getting cornered by Josephine and her gang (who call themselves the “Crip Mafia Cartel”) under the titular bridge.

None of this comes to light until Reena’s worried parents (Archie Panjabi as Suman and Ezra Faroque Khan as Manjit) report her as missing a few days later. Most of the cops dismiss the report, insisting that girls disappear all the time, but Cam Bentland (Gladstone) realizes something is off, and begins an investigation that shakes up the entire town.

Hell is a teenage girl.


At the same time, Rebecca Godfrey (Riley Keough) returns to her hometown to write a book about the lost girls of Victoria, British Columbia, and manages to earn Josephine’s trust. The police call them “Bic girls,” Josephine bitterly tells Rebecca, “like the lighters... because we’re disposable.” But when Josephine is taken into police custody for questioning over Reena’s disappearance, Rebecca finds herself drawn further into the girls’ twisted world, while being forced to face and work with her former friend, Cam.

Under the Bridge weaves a compelling, if sometimes convoluted, mystery out of a relatively simple story, but its characters and performances keep this somewhat ungainly series afloat. Though the show’s decision to make Rebecca a character sometimes makes for awkward narrative insertions, Keough and Gladstone’s interactions help create the show’s most riveting moments. Gladstone, in particular, is a saving grace, her turmoiled performance elevating it from its true-crime trappings into something more haunting and striking. And, of course, there are the teenage perpetrators of the tragic crime at the series’ center — dark, twisted, mean, a little sad, and mostly lost. Hell is a teenage girl, and you can find some of its cruelest demons Under the Bridge.

Under the Bridge Episodes 1 and 2 are streaming on Hulu. New episodes premiere Wednesdays.

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