REVIEW: ‘Chosen’ is a Gen Z Mystery-Box

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Chosen - But Why Tho

The mid-2000s may have been the heyday of the mystery-box cable drama, but that doesn’t mean the genre is dead. Chosen is a Dutch-language Netflix Original sci-fi series that has all the trappings of a Lost or Twin Peaks, only, with a quarter the number of episodes and a whole lot more YA mess. Emma (Malaika Mosendane) has never really felt like she fit in. But when she accidentally breaks the town’s precious meteor, she finds herself in the middle of a group of friends and their ongoing investigation into the truth behind the meteor crash and the strange people around their small town.

It’s a simple premise, filled with all the twists, turns, and moments that only lead to more questions that made some of the prestige television of the previous decades, well, prestige. I submit that Chosen has all of the ingredients to hang in the big leagues. Its premise and mysteries are intriguing and the characters and their dynamics are the kind of mess you crave (even if they’re largely and annoyingly premised on irritatingly poor communication). There’s only one problem, truly: the show is far too short.

For as much as the streaming era has found success in short-form series with big budgets and epic episodes, that’s not really what Chosen is. And it doesn’t have to be that. However, people enjoyed 22-24 episodes seasons of cable television for a reason, and despite the dominance of the streamers, many people still do. Chosen feels like it was created for that longer form of television without ever giving it the opportunity to be its fullest self.

On the plot side, I was hooked from the beginning. What isn’t interesting about aliens landing in a small town, teens trying to tell truths from lies, and the slow unraveling of mysteries within mysteries. Even through the six episodes as they are, I’m both impressed with the direction the story moved and would love to see a second season continue to ask and answer more questions.

As far as characters, I enjoyed all of them for who they were. Emma’s relationships especially with Marie (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) and with her mother (Line Kruse) struck the right balance between annoyingly non-communicative but still endearing, leaving me wanting more scenes with them constantly. This was true of many of the show’s characters, really.

There just wasn’t enough time, though. Too many of the twists felt like they came too fast, without more episodes to let one idea sink in before another revelation could even feel shocking. And the relationships I enjoyed felt more superficial than they certainly could have been with more time to develop them. Some relationships that were especially either interesting or confounding had virtually no time to precipitate, and may never in a future season, which is certainly disappointing. While I’m hopeful another season will give time to both the story and characters to continue growing and intriguing, there’s certainly a depth to it all that’s lost in not extending the run time by at least several more hours.

Visually, Chosen oscillates between two modes: really visually intentional and striking, and way too dark to see anything. The striking moments, like in large, empty buildings with huge windows, or a fair, are nice compliments to the more explicitly sci-fi scenes. But in the moments where things are too dark, it becomes frustrating, because there are a number of scenes that are long, drawn-out silences, and when you can’t see what’s happening during them, it’s a big turnoff. There’s a particularly critical moment in the plot based entirely on seeing something small in a dark corner that was absolutely impossible to see, no thanks to the strange camera angle on top of the shadows and general darkness.

The music selection throughout the show is great though. There are rock and pop songs that kick in at just the right moments constantly and often add a lot of levity to otherwise serious or gruesome moments. These moments are probably not moments that would get comedic musical cues in an American production, and I wouldn’t exactly call the show funny most of the time. But these moments totally work.

Chosen is a good show. It has fun, messy relationships with its diverse cast and interesting, mysterious plot. Its only real folly is that it simply is too short to give me as much of what I wanted in a full season out of its mysteries and its relationships. They’re all good for what they are, I just can’t help but feel that there could have been much more with a longer format.

Chosen is streaming now on Netflix.


Chosen
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Chosen is a good show. It has fun, messy relationships with its diverse cast and interesting, mysterious plot. Its only real folly is that it simply is too short to give me as much of what I wanted in a full season out of its mysteries and its relationships. They’re all good for what they are, I just can’t help but feel that there could have been much more with a longer format.