Buckle up for a wild ride. What appears to be a rehashing of the 1993 film Indecent Proposal is in reality far from it. Although What/If on Netflix gives a nod or two to the film, the trailer is fairly misleading. In fact I almost didn’t watch the series figuring I had seen this story before. Don’t click past this one, it just might exceed your expectations.
The Set Up
Lisa Donovan (Jane Levy, Subergatory) is a brilliant scientist with a revolutionary idea to change the way doctors target disease. Her biomedical startup needs a cash infusion fast but investors are skeptical. Enter Anne Montgomery (Renée Zellweger), a venture capitalist known for her no nonsense, cold hearted, approach to business. Anne is interested in investing in Emigen, Lisa’s company, but with one major condition. Anne gets to spend one night alone with Lisa’s husband Sean (Blake Jenner, Glee) in exchange for keeping the company afloat.
I have to say I can see the appeal.
On second thought, maybe not. Additionally, they all have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) stating they will not discuss any details of that night together or else forfeit the entire company to Anne.
Zellweger is as we’ve never seen her before. Not only has she left Bridget Jones far behind, she’s clubbed her over the head, dragged her into an alley and left her for the rats. Watching Zellweger as Anne is like watching a serpent slither around in designer clothes. Anne is outwardly calm but underneath cleverly calculated, diabolical and deadly. Her motives as well as her history are shrouded in mystery. Anne’s ruggedly handsome right hand man (henchmen, body guard, administrative assistant, driver) Foster, West World’s Louis Herthum, is just as mysterious.
Their dynamic is as confusing as it is fascinating. They are strongly bonded, not in a sexual way. He is the ever devoted employee, undertaking a number of important and sometimes unscrupulous tasks and yet he seeks to act as Anne’s moral compass. A compass Anne completely ignores.
But Wait There’s More
There are two other story lines secondary to the “indecent proposal” that get plenty of screen time in this drama. Lisa’s adoptive brother Marcos (Juan Castano), and his live in boyfriend have some potentially sticky issues to work through. Marcos has also been harboring a shameful secret that threatens to destroy his family.
That’s not the secret, btw, they just make a cute couple.
Sean’s high school buddies Todd (Keith Powers) and Angela (Samantha Marie Ware) have marital issues of their own that are greatly complicated by Dave Annable (Brothers and Sisters) who’s not what he seems.
Over The Top?
Although the drama comes close to soap opera levels of insanity it manages to not quite cross that line. The ending wraps up pretty tightly with a bit of an opening for another season. However, What/If is rumored to be an anthology series with whole new characters for Season 2. Although Netflix will not make that call until they see how What/If fares, creator Mike Kelly (Revenge) is hopeful.