Limited series Chloe premieres June 24 on Prime Video.
Portraying the ills of social media is a familiar cautionary tale for all kinds of storytelling these days, but Chloe, Prime Video’s mystery/thriller limited series, smartly uses the guises of the platforms as the conduit to solving a murder. Created, written, and directed by Alice Seabright, Chloe plays well as both an engaging true crime mystery and as an intimate exploration of the lives of two seemingly disparate women, Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert) and Becky Green (Erin Doherty). Seabright uses the unreliable nature of social media to frame Becky’s desire to unravel the truths behind the persona of her internet obsession, Chloe. What ensues is a tangled web of deception, secrets, and unexplored pain that results in outcomes both expected and unexpected.
The series opens with Becky in bed, scrolling her social media feed in the middle of the night. In particular, she eats up the minutiae of Chloe Fairbourne’s, a posh-looking 30-something with the perfect “gram” life filled with gorgeous clothes, food, friends, and a doting husband. It’s the antithesis of Becky’s reality which finds her of the same age, single, working as a temp, and living in a cheap flat with her mum who has early onset dementia. But Becky’s not a loser. She’s a very resourceful, smart woman stuck in stasis. With a simmering anger fueling her, she approaches everyday life as a series of gates to leap over so she can graze wherever she sees fit. Becky crashes parties for the free food, potential one-night stands, and opportunities to knick the random expensive coat or bauble. But her world tilts when she sees from friends’ comments on Chloe’s feed that the object of her fixation has shockingly died. And then it gets spooky when Becky discovers from the police investigating Chloe’s death that two middle-of-the-night missed calls she thought were from a lover were actually from Chloe.
Becky then shifts into proactive mode, throwing herself into finding ways to ingratiate herself into Chloe’s circle of friends. Assuming the name of Sasha, Becky uses Chloe’s feed to locate those closest to her and then charms herself right into their midst. From Chloe’s BFF Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner) down to Chloe’s grieving husband, Elliot (Billy Howle), no one is immune to Becky’s relentless charm offensive to win the trust of those closest to Chloe so she can unearth how she died, and then find out what could have precipitated the sudden loss of such an externally “perfect” woman.
Taking her cues from the lack of transparency when it comes to the facades people project onto their social media, Seabright weaves that unreliable narrative into the spine of Becky’s life and her all-consuming pursuit of the truth behind what happened to Chloe. What initially seems random in regards to Becky's connection to Chloe, with just a little digging, becomes very clear and shifts the lens of the series from arbitrary to specific. And Becky herself is as unreliable and as slippery as it gets. Erin Doherty plays Becky with a spiky, remorseless precision as she goes about her investigations with an almost amoral focus. Yet she’s not performed as a manipulative monster, only capable of thoughtless and selfish things. Doherty does a brilliant job bringing forth Becky’s complexities, which makes her a fascinating character to follow. As her own secrets spill forth and she bends under the weight of leading this double life without being discovered, Doherty makes this flawed woman oddly sympathetic. She’s scrappy and messy, but also trying to do the right thing in taking care of her increasingly ailing mum with whom she has a very complicated relationship.
There’s also something thrilling about watching Becky cleverly attempt to steamroll these people who are a means to an end for her. Like the audience, she finds herself succumbing to their stories of regret, shame, and sadness about Chloe’s fate. And as she gets closer to Livia and Elliot, Becky might as well be a doppelganger walking in the ghostly remains of Chloe’s footsteps. She wrestles with just accepting their stories as true, fully immersing herself in this other woman’s posh reality, or sticking to her gut instincts to remain neutral as she toils to avenge Chloe’s death which feels more nefarious the more she unearths.
Chloe is like curling up with a great page-turner by Gillian Flynn or Anne Rivers Siddons, just with a more pragmatic and contemporary British point of view. The appeal isn’t the environments or the settings (though Chloe’s home is certainly a house to covet), but the strength of the characters and the secrets they keep. Doherty and the rest of the excellent supporting cast draw you into this world of relatable and screwed-up people. And we, the audience, are rewarded with the stories of Chloe and Becky’s ultimately connecting in a very poignant exploration of friendship, the regrets of youth, and the perils of losing oneself in someone else.