The Reel Review
Immediately after a family man in Oakland, California goes missing, a sinister viral video of him appears online, labeling him an abuser of women and a killer – and a warning that he will die after five million views. Police and family members must race against the clock to solve the crime, in this Netflix limited series.
Told from the perspectives of different key players involved in the drama, Clickbait is more than just a twist-filled crime mystery where nothing is as it initially appears. Its eight, 45-minute episodes explore a multitude of issues – the invasive role of social media in true crime stories, online trolls, catfishing, identity theft, doxing, exploitive tabloid journalism and the disposability of online hookup culture. It ticks off this kitchen sink of internet-related issues, while covering none with much depth.
The solid ensemble cast includes an excellent Adrian Grenier (Entourage, The Devil Wears Prada) as the missing victim, Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) as his hot headed sister, a superb Betty Gabriel (Get Out) as his increasingly conflicted, guilt-ridden wife and Phoenix Raei as the missing persons detective.
After a riveting start, the thinly constructed Clickbait continuously devolves over the subsequent episodes, culminating into a totally bonkers, far fetched conclusion that will infuriate most viewers. The series falls short of other recent twisty crime dramas such as Mare of Easttown, Big Little Lies and Defending Jacob. But for comparatively low brow entertainment, the appropriately titled Clickbait is bingeable and quickly forgettable fun.
• Although set in the United States, Clickbait was filmed in Melbourne, Australia.
• Clickbait series co-creator Tony Ayers says a nine month break in filming due to the COVID pandemic hindered plans to feature the culprit into more of the series.
• Zoe Kazan is the granddaughter of director/actor Elia Kazan. She and longtime partner Paul Dano (Prisoners, There Will Be Blood) have a daughter who was born in August 2018.