Editor’s note: Spoilers for Clickbait are below
The new show that has everybody talking on Twitter is Netflix’s Clickbait–an eight-episode series that is full of plot twists and who-did-it anticipation that no one in the audience watching at home could have guessed. The lead-up to the big reveal at the culmination of the show that happens to star Get Out‘s Betty Gabriel and Entourage’s Adrian Grenier was nothing short of a surprise.
The show’s mystery starts when a viral video features Nick Brewer (Grenier), a family man being held hostage with a disclaimer that he will be killed if the video reaches 5 million views. Brewer’s video speaks directly to the “clickbait”-y title of the streaming service giant’s top-ranked new series.
Adrian Grenier’s superb acting and face of terror as he is filmed online for global entertainment is fantastic for Netflix in preparation for the Halloween season. The mystery really starts when Nick’s family and his wife Sophie (Gabriel) are seeking to find out how to save their loved one while also trying to uncover the perpetrator committing the crime against Nick. The other rabbit hole within the plot itself is figuring out what Nick did to be tied down to a chair and filmed in front of a virtual audience for viewership, unfortunately ending in his untimely death. The biggest shocker is that even though Nick has been put captured by his kidnapper for apparent wrongdoing, the other characters have also done terrible things, like commit adultery or heinous selfish acts to achieve social gain.
Nick’s sister Pia (Zoe Kazan) is a vital puzzle piece in the overall mystery of the show that uses smokescreens to trick the audience regarding the identity of Nick’s kidnapper. Pia’s impulsive and edgy nature makes you enthralled by her confidence but then you suddenly realize she is just a young teenager absorbing all of the devastating events involving her brother in the most mentally calm way she can. Their rocky sister and brother dynamic comes from their upbringing of experiencing their father’s suicide and being traumatized by this tragic event. This all connects to the sometimes offensive nature of the dark web and internet where trolls exist and thrive by harassing others and in this case, holding someone hostage. The story continues to follow the deepest rabbit holes of internet culture and a game of telephone as each episode follows a different character involved or related to Nick’s case.
Much later in the plot, Nick is found out to have a dating profile where he leads on other women, making the audience believe he’s actually the bad guy. This idea becomes especially powerful since one of the women, Sarah Burton (Taylor Ferguson) dies by suicide after being allegedly catfished by Nick’s pictures–the person using Nick’s photo does not talk her down in the midst of her mental distress before her death. Yet again, this is another smokescreen for the audience to believe Nick is in the wrong. However, the series teaches you more about Nick, peeling back yet another layer of the character for the audience.
The entire plot really presents Nick as an immoral protagonist, but the audience learns that he hasn’t committed as much wrongdoing as he’s been accused of. Sophia pushes Nick into creating a dating profile because she had an affair with another man named Curtis (Motell Gyn Foster), which makes Nick spiteful. It was actually Nick’s quiet coworker Dawn (Becca Lish) who used Nick’s photos to catfish women out of loneliness, and when Nick angrily went after her once he found out. This is when her husband Ed (Wally Dunn) attacked Nick and created the viral video as a cover-up. The virality of the video highlights a deeper theme about the safety of online users and how addicted we all are to watching other people’s lives, even if that leads to their total demise.
Clickbait is just that–an episodic series that unravels in a way that makes the audience feel confused and not affirmed by their assumptions on the characters in the plot. Especially, since viewers at home are probably going from one screen to another to keep up with the convoluted plotline that ends up being more straightforward than you would think. Pia helps resolve everyone’s suspicions, knowing that Nick would never harm someone if they both experienced the trauma of their father’s death at a young age. Series creators Tony Ayres and Christian White propel the audience’s speculations with Twitter discussions that will undoubtedly grow the popularity and interest for the show. But the title definitely suits its narrative full of red-herrings and social media farces.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (deaf and hard of hearing callers can dial 711 before the number) or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers.