Keep Breathing: Limited Series Review


Keep Breathing streaming on Netflix July 28, 2022.

Survival drama is a paint-by-numbers formula. Take a terrified individual or group, drop them into the wilderness, and follow them as they crumble. Sprinkle in some interpersonal issues, and boom! You’ve got an easy-to-follow show for just about any audience… But that doesn’t always mean you’ve got something good, and unfortunately Keep Breathing, Netflix’s latest take on the genre, is serviceable at best. .

The limited series is an uninspired take on what shows like Lost did first – forcing “normal” people to survive in the wilderness – without any of the supernatural elements that made this series interesting. It’s a weird mishmash of action and melodrama that somehow manages to make survival in the wilderness even less thrilling than our heroine’s personal flashbacks. The result? An extremely routine series that fortunately ends in just six episodes.

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Lawyer Liv (Melissa Barrera) has made it her mission to meet someone near the Canadian wilderness before she resumes her normal life, but her flight has been canceled. Desperate, she turns to two men she finds at the airport heading for the same destination. They reluctantly agree to take him with them, but disaster strikes when the plane crashes. With both men ultimately succumbing to their injuries and the plane submerged underwater, Liv must survive on her own for as long as she can…with little hope of rescue.

It’s extremely standard survival fare: the lawyer who works first struggles to adjust to the situation, while reflecting on the failures that led up to this moment. Interspersed with colorful vignettes that give us a glimpse into Liv’s life before the accident, Keep Breathing shows the young lawyer’s determination to survive in the desert – even if it means burning piles of cash she finds in her luggage and bury the oxycodone she found with it.

‘Cause it turns out living alone in the desert is hard. This show really wants to remind you of that fact every time you tune in, and how hard its protagonist works to make sure she stays alive. Liv dives underwater again and again to retrieve equipment from the plane, only to come face to face with a hungry bear ripping through her food supplies. She doesn’t really know where to take refuge at first. There’s nothing to distract her from her absent mother and the death of her beloved father…or the skeletons in her closet. But she finds a way, of course, because Keep Breathing wants us to root for Liv, even when she’s as milquetoast of a survivor as humanly possible.

As resourceful as Liv seems to be, figuring out which berries can be eaten and making her own compass, she also shows little common sense. Why burn heaps of money when there is plenty of wood to burn? And why discard perfectly good drugs (despite the risk of complications) when there are dangers lurking around every corner? This would come in handy if she broke her arm or got into a fight with a bear. There’s no real explanation for these decisions, other than it’s just more dramatic that way, apparently. A money-burning lawyer? Seems a bit on the nose.

Keep Breathing is an average show, at least, if you just need Something to look at.

And of course, there’s also a particularly predictable revelation that often surrounds women in film and TV who are faced with already difficult situations. For spoiler reasons, we won’t say exactly what that entails, but it sets up exactly the kind of poised writing I’d expect of anything that makes a strong woman supposed to pull herself out of a situation. seemingly insurmountable.

This twist adds little to the plot and only serves as a reminder that, if there is any chance for a woman to star in a series where she must use whatever is at her disposal to survive, she must always s take care of someone else. Because the last thing a woman should care about is herself, apparently, and writing like that only serves to drive this harmful narrative home.

Otherwise, it seems like the rest of Liv’s time wanting to survive is also male-dominated. If she’s not lost in thought about her father’s death, she dreams of her on-and-off relationship with co-worker Danny (Jeff Wilbusch), or tormented by Sam (Austin Stowell), one of the men with whom she hitchhiked. .

Frustratingly, there’s no real explanation why Sam was so determined that no one would come out to save them after the plane crash. Assuming the men’s Cessna had departed from the same airport Liv had visited, he must have communicated with air traffic controllers. There is some kind of recording, of course, of the flight and even its potential destination, despite what Sam says, requiring a little too much suspension of disbelief on our part.

As for the story itself, there’s no reason to watch this middling take on the survival genre.

There’s also no reason for a device the show continues to use: the late Sam acting as a negative voice that keeps telling Liv she’s going to die. She has no personal connection to Sam before the accident, and there’s no point other than being a detractor so we can rejoice in Liv’s wins. And from what we know of him during his brief lifespan, there’s little reason to suppose he’d be so hostile towards someone struggling to stay alive long enough to seek help.

On the bright side, Keep Breathing is visually pleasing, with fantastic camerawork, an inspired score, and excellent acting from its main cast. It’s so unfortunate, then, that it fails to provide any real staying power thanks to a boring setup and an even more boring cast of characters that don’t make any real impression. The best there is to say? Keep Breathing is an average show, at least, if you just need Something to look at.

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