If the Twilight series is your cup of decaffeinated green tea, Hemlock Grove is like a double shot of werewolf Espresso in a Vampire Drip coffee with an extra WTF was that chaser. With Eli Roth as the Executive Producer, I knew to expect violence and a love letter to monster movies. The Netflix funded and hosted show is based on the novel of the same name by author Brian McGreevy. Truth be told, it took me six months to get back to reviewing this show. This isn’t to say that I didn’t powerwatch Hemlock Grove and send messages to my friends and staffers at all hours trying to figure out what the hell I was watching, but the violence against women in this show left me scratching my head. The characters are for the most part unredeemable and frustrating to watch. I did decide to revisit it after I realized that I’d found no one reedemable in American Horror Story: Coven, but loved every moment of that show. Olivia Godfrey beckoned, and like so many in her wake I was powerless to not return to her thrall.
As Always, Spoilers Below. Read at Your Own Risk!
Welcome to Hemlock Grove
Over the course of watching two seasons, I developed a few nicknames for the main characters. Here is a brief guide:
Baby Jared Leto is the werewolf. I guess his character’s name is Peter and his real name is Landon Liboiron, but where is the fun in that.
Roman Godfrey became That Other Skarsgard for the duration of the show. I mean, you have to expect it when your older brother was the drop dead sexy Eric Northman on Trueblood.
Femke Jensen is definitely Not Jean Grey.
Letha and Miranda Cates became those easily confused and interchangeable hot blonde girls. (Seriously, look at them)
Baby Jared Leto aka Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) is a Romani (not Gypsy) and a werewolf. His chief concerns are surviving high school and keeping both his mother (Lili Taylor) and cousin Destiny (Kaniehtiio Horn of Supernatural fame) safe. Already dealing with this and the pressures of high school, he ends up the center of attention and whipping boy for Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard), the wealthiest teenager in town. Roman’s sister, Shelly (Madeline Martin and Michael Andreae), is a strangely tall teenage girl who after an experiment as a child developed special powers, but may only speak via an iphone. Other than Shelly, the only person Roman has ever loved is his cousin Letha Godfrey (Penelope Mitchell). Roman has had a charmed life of wealth and power, but also was the child who discovered his father after an assumed suicide. His mother, Olivia Godfrey (Femke Jensen), is the stonehearted power behind the Godfrey thrown and their holdings in Godfrey Industries. Her partner in crime is Doctor Johann Pryce (Joel de la Fuente). He is more concerned with the concept of immortality than with morality, making his partnership with Olivia even stronger. Olivia is keeping herself busy with booze, seemingly eternal youth and her affair with her brother-in-law, the very married Norman Godfrey (Dougray Scott). As the show develops, we learn quickly that the supernatural is alive and well in the small town of Hemlock Grove. Olivia is something, otherworldly and she has passed this on to her son Roman. Shelley possesses power, but is almost always pushed aside by Olivia for not being pretty enough. Peter struggles to keep his wolf in check, but is definitely not the only wolf in town. As a the bodies of pretty young girl murder victims from the high school begin to be found all over town both Roman and Jared fear for what might be causing it. They team up together and form a tumultuous partnership. It doesn’t help that both are not so secretly in love with Letha Godfrey. It only gets worse when they discover that Letha is mysterious pregnant with a child she claims came from an angel.
Warning from Godfrey Industries:
This show is VIOLENT with a capital everything. Blood, guts, violence and the occasionally bloody breast discharge are all things that you will see watching this show. Women in different states of dismemberment can be found in most of the episodes starting the show. If you are a sensitive viewer or, like me have a really hard time seeing women in different states of being ripped apart, you may find yourself turning the TV off and going to power watch something else. You are no less for doing this. In fact, you’ll have a lot less nightmares than I did. There is also a good deal of sexual content, and not all of it is anywhere close to sexy. Actually, a good deal of it is uncomfortable. Dialogue involves all your expected swears and I’m pretty sure we could make a drinking game base just on the use of the F word. In short, don’t watch this with your kids anywhere near the room.
The Dress Code:
Not Jean Grey (Olivia Godfrey) is the queen of style. She is wealthy, she is powerful, and even when she is so painfully evil you want to punch her in the face, you can’t help but admire every single one of her outfits.
Destiny likewise has the power of the modern Bohemian flowing in her veins. Her robes are something I’d like to have in my closet for sure.
Good Signs from The Order of the Dragon:
- Femke Jensen is a freaking Powerhouse with some of the best one liners in Dark Fantasy. Not Jean Grey is so hateable you don’t feel sorry for her losing her tongue at the end of Season One. Her ability to come back stronger and rip out hearts is even cooler.
- Shelly is smart, funny, and one hell of a fighter. She also rescues a kid after some pretty bad domestic violence nonsense goes down.
- Destiny tricking unsuspecting couples and members of authority into giving her money and then giving them nothing in return is a thing of beauty. Of course, she also can actually deal with the forces of darkness so that makes her pretty awesome too.
Bad News from the Hemlock Grove Police Department:
- Violence against women is EVERYWHERE in this show. Whether it’s finding a half-eaten female corpse or blood pumping out of the neck of a freshly killed teenage girl in the safety of her own bedroom, it’s hard not to wonder where the equality of death was on this show. In the later portions of Season 2, it appears that this is starting to change but it ends up being too little too late.
- How freaking creepy incesty the relationship between Other Skarsgard and his mother Not Jean Grey is. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.
- Roman’s bad behavior is annoying and forced. Come on, Other Skarsgard. I know you’re really a tortured soul, but you’ve got like crazy forces of darkness powers; let’s go crazy Broadway style.
- Not Jean Grey’s pseudo-British accent in Season One is annoying at best, distracting at worst. The viewer can’t help but be relieved when she loses her tongue, has it reattached by Pryce, and begins talking like a “corn-fed bumpkin” again.
- Interchangeable Hot Blond Girls are so interchangeable it hurts. You lose the Letha at the end of Season One, but Miranda pops up in time to be a surrogate for her kid. She’s also a surrogate for Baby Jared Leto and Other Skarsgard’s weird threesome like relationships, as if no one could tell the difference.
- WHAT IS THAT BAT THING AT THE END OF SEASON TWO? To quote a dear friend of mine, “Hemlock Grove, I know what your shark looks like and you just jumped it.”
Hemlock Grove six months later is the same show I watched six months ago. If you’re looking for an excuse to avoid your family and watch body parts be pulled off of bodies, Hemlock Grove is still available to watch on Netflix. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
Season 3 of Hemlock will be available for streaming on Netflix in Summer 2015.