Another Euro TV crime drama based on real-life events has arrived in the US. It’s called The Godless, it’s from the Netherlands, and it’s pretty disturbing.
Similar to the Danish crime drama Unit One, The Godless (Van God Los) features stories inspired by actual police cases. But where the former follows an elite group of homicide detectives as they investigate crimes across Denmark, there isn’t a cop is sight in the latter.
Instead, The Godless — a two-time Best TV Drama nominee at the Netherlands Film Festival — looks squarely at the perpetrators and their victims.
Each TV-MA episode (45-50 minutes) in this true-crime anthology is a standalone story with its own set of characters, plot, and an opening scene that teases what’s to come, namely the backstory and key events that lead to the crime, followed by closing case notes.
Of the first season’s nine episodes, I’ve watched the first three.
“Spectre” (“Spookbeeld“) centers on the emotionally-volatile and violence-prone Tilly (Georgina Verbaan), who, with help from her minion Roxanne (Carolien Spoor), terrorizes the brash Kim (Kiki van Deursen), the rival for Tilly’s boyfriend’s affections. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially when said woman is a psychopath.
“Weed” (“Wiet“) revolves around pot grower Arjen (Rogier Philipoom), who’s still in love with ex-girlfriend and current business partner Katja (Bracha van Doesburgh). She, though, is head over heels for a another guy. To make matters worse for Arjen, he discover Katja’s been ripping off their crime boss, and his “brother” keeps bullying him to get things sorted.
And in “By Force” (“Onder dwang“), Hamit (Önder Dogan) has returned from Turkey to the Netherlands and wants to reconcile with ex-girlfriend Mihriban (Gamze Tazim), but she’s engaged to her cousin. Not only that, when her father (Ergun Simsek) learns the pair have been in contact, be becomes hellbent on avenging the dishonor to his family by Hamit.
Without a doubt, “Spectre” is the most unsettling of the three; the depravity shown is positively chilling. “Weed” is rather uninteresting and flat until the very end, when a key factor in the story is revealed. And while the cultural aspects of “By Force” will likely be disturbing to some viewers, the nature of self-preservation is even more so.
The first third of Season 1 is uneven, but The Godless is still one to watch, as seeing the lengths to which real people have gone to right a perceived wrong is fascinating.
Shown in Dutch with English subtitles, the entire first season of The Godless is now available for streaming on MHz Choice.
The Godless, a production of Netherlands public broadcaster BNN and Amsterdam-based production company Pupkin Film, is created by Pieter Kuijpers, who wrote and directed the film Godforsaken, of which The Godless is an offshoot. Kuijpers is also a producer of the series and the director of the second episode.
Season 4 of The Godless is currently in production.
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