Netflix recently released its newest original drama, Bloodline, a dark family drama masquerading as a dark crime drama. It was received with mixed reviews, the foremost criticism being that it’s somewhat vague. A family has a secret. A stranger comes into town. Siblings fight. Things fall apart. It’s an oft-told story that isn’t made fresh with Bloodline.
Bloodline has some great attributes. It has a fantastic cast—Sissy Spacek as the forgiving matriarch, Kyle Chandler as the responsible brother, Linda Cardellini as the people pleasing sister and sort-of-newcomer, sort-of-that-guy-that’s-on-the-fringes-of-everything, and Ben Mendelsohn as the black sheep. They do excellent work with what they’re given.
It’s also gorgeously shot. Set in a dreamy Key West, Florida has never looked more idyllic. Which made me think—what if it were set somewhere else? You can basically take the main components of Bloodline and move the setting to just about anywhere. Such as…
A family drama focusing on a flawed main character with a dark past and criminal ties. There is a ton of infighting, deception and violence between family members.
Wait, I’m sorry. That’s been done. Sorry, The Sopranos.
A family drama revolving around a flawed main character who is slowly drawn into the drug trade so that he can pay off his debts. His son resents him. His significant other is blonde.
Did it again. That’s Breaking Bad, my bad.
A family drama focused on four siblings with clashing personalities. Of course there are family secrets. Oh, and the parents are loaded.
Los Angeles, California
Ok let’s try again. Siblings with clashing personalities. There’s a family business. The patriarch dies. There’s a deep undercurrent of dread, but it’s still sunny all the time.
Nope. That’s been done. Six Feet Under.
Ok last time…
Somewhere in the Middle East
Two brothers with clashing personalities fight over their father’s love. One brother ends up murdered.
Shoot. Cain and Abel.
Of course, there are a finite amount of stories to tell. We can boil every story down to the same few elements, but it’s how these elements are used in fresh and interesting ways that makes a show worthwhile. Bloodline does not seem to have anything new to say—it’s a decent show with an indecently great cast, but it is completely overshadowed by the great family dramas that have come before it.