Netflix's new psychological thriller-parody series The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (released Jan. 28) has been highly anticipated and the show’s star Kristen Bell says "bad acting" is what made this series possible.
“We tried to create a very real world that you would see in one of these psychological thrillers and create real suspense, because if we were just making a joke and nobody cared about who the killer was, or the who done it, how it ended, then no one would watch it,” Bell, an expert in the crime-solving genre as the iconic title star of Veronica Mars, told Yahoo Canada.
“I just looked to director Michael Lehmann to figure out if what I was doing would be funny and across the board, the note I kept getting was just be sincere,...and then I kind of realized that I was doing some really good bad acting, and it worked.”
It’s that concept of purposefully being “bad actors” and saying ridiculous lines with conviction that gives The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window its desired style.
“It is a fine line and it's something we all I think struggled with initially,” Michael Ealy said. “As we kept shooting, we all got better at being bad actors.”
“On other sets, you might argue that perhaps this could be said a little more subtly or is there another way to do this that perhaps isn't quite so on the nose, in this, it was like, ‘no, no, this is how you're going to do it, but just do it as well as you possibly can,” Tom Riley added.
“Anything unsubtle we leaned into.”
In The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window Anna (Kristen Bell) is heartbroken by the death of her daughter three years ago, and her subsequent divorce from her husband Douglas (Michael Ealy). Everyday is the same for her, she pours herself a full glass of wine (or two) and sits at a chair looking out the window. When a handsome, widowed neighbour Neil (Tom Riley) moves in across the street with his daughter Emma (Samsara Leela Yett), conveniently in direct view of her chair, Anna starts obsessively watching them, hoping to have a connection with Neil.
One day, after mixing her wine with prescription pills, she sees a murder in Neil’s home, but there is no evidence of what she saw, which leads her on a path to prove that someone was actually killed - or else she’s just crazy.
'You've already figured it out and there's no point for your brain to pay attention'
For The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, because it’s poking fun at the traditional tropes we see in these psychological thrillers, particularly with Anna’s character, it was important to still have that connection to real mystery and suspense to house the jokes.
“You only watch things as a viewer, whether you know it or not, because you're attempting to find something out,” Bell said. “When you don't like a show and you can't figure out why, sometimes it's because you've already figured it out and there's no point for your brain to pay attention.”
The actor who plays Anna describes the moment in the show when we find out about how Anna’s daughter died (which we won't spoil) as “absurd” and “one of the boldest jokes that I didn't even know if we'd be able to pull off,” which is very accurate. It’s moments like that in the story (again, no spoilers), that will give you a chuckle.
In terms of who the murderer in the story is, we won’t ruin the intended surprise but we will say that retrospectively, it’s quite obvious. Ealy admitted he “knew who the killer was by episode three and by episode eight, I was wrong.”
“I could never have anticipated the ending and yet looking back, it's the only way the show could have ended,” Bell teased.
“I never saw it coming but when you know what happens, you look back and you think, well of course that's it, it was all there from the beginning,” Riley added.