When I first read the description for Netflix’s latest “Clickbait,” I was not very impressed. Don’t know why. I thought it was just another crime mini-series that used technology as a central theme and focused on technological jargons throughout to confuse the audience. But a couple of days later, I was clickbaited into watching the American-Australian miniseries.
Created by Tony Ayres and Christian White, and directed by Brad Anderson, Emma Freeman, Ben Young, and Laura Besley, the eight-episode series is about how the internet has become a means of inciting violence but it also does not focus entirely on technology as a problem and solution. Instead, Clickbait follows its humans—the characters in the story who give their unique POV in each episode.
Clickbait begins with a minor feud at a family dinner, where following an altercation between the siblings Nick (Adrian Grenier) and Pia Brewer (Zoe Kazan), the latter rushes out of the house and in a frenzied mood, ends up binge drinking and partying all night. Next morning at work, Pia comes across a video on the internet that has Nick—visibly beaten and bruised—carrying placards that read “I ABUSE WOMEN” and “AT 5 MILLION VIEWS I DIE.”
Shocked and rattled, Pia races against the time to find out the whereabouts of her brother. In her search, she is aided by the Oakland Police Department detective Roshan Amir (Phoenix Raei), Nick’s wife Sophie (Betty Gabriel) and news reporter Ben Park (Abraham Lim), among others. The search for Nick then opens a can of worms, one after another, in the lives of the people connected to him. Multiple characters in the series come across as suspects and are duly acquitted as the search for Nick also reveals their dark secrets. At one point, even Nick’s personality comes under scrutiny following some serious allegations that lead his family and friends to question his credibility.
Clickbait uses its characters to narrate the story. Every episode, besides the finale, is named after a character and their relation with Nick. So the audience gets to see multiple sides of the story and try to figure out what is happening. But figure out, most will not. There are some outrageous twists and turns to keep the audience thinking.
Using Nick and his family to tell the story, Clickbait also mirrors the lives of millions of people who have been wronged on the internet one way or the other. Many of us regular users have become victims of the world wide web that extends beyond our countries or continents. At the same time, we knowingly or unknowingly become perpetrators too.
By accident or some people with pure malice, internet users have breached someone’s privacy or directed hate towards them on social media or given solicitation to immoral and illegal activities. Clickbait exposes this vulnerability as well as the voyeuristic nature of people online.
Clickbait has amazing acting by all its characters and the cinematography is on the spot. But the storytelling is so captivating that it doesn’t let you point out individual performances. The whole series is a package of excellent craftsmanship and is thoroughly enjoyable.
Who should watch it?
Intensity is at the core of all the 42-52 minute-long episodes. Every episode gets the same treatment and by the time one ends, you want to jump to the next. I initially thought I would watch one episode and continue the next day but I ended up pulling off an all-nighter. All crime/thriller/suspense movie lovers will relish Clickbait without doubt. Also, the fact that there is little physical violence might lure people who otherwise don’t have a stomach for blood and gore.
On Netflix Rating: 4 stars
Actors: Adrian Grenier, Zoe Kazan
Directors: Brad Anderson, Emma Freeman, Ben Young, and Laura Besley
Run time: 5hrs 30mins (approx.)