TV Review: ‘Servant’

Apple TV+’s “Servant” may not have arrived with the anticipation of “The Morning Show” or been labeled as the surprise hit of the steaming service’s young life, like “Defending Jacob.” However, what “Servant” was able to do was balance pleasing general audiences and critics alike on a level those two shows were unable to achieve. Director and Executive Producer M. Night Shyamalan has created a slow-burning horror series, heavy on mystery and set in a world that is perfectly normal on the surface.

After the tragic loss of their newborn son Jericho, well-to-do Philadelphia couple Sean and Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell) are devastated. Dorothy spends well over a month in a near-catatonic state, and the only thing that helped her cope was an uncannily realistic therapy doll. Treating the doll as if it was Jericho brings a bit of Dorothy back to the surface but drives a wedge between the struggling couple. Adding to the tension is Leanne (Nell Tiger-Free), the peculiar nanny Dorothy hired to take care of the doll once she returned to work. Shyamalan builds tension through the use of music and camerawork, until the moment a living child replaces the doll, and s—t gets weird.

“Servant” season 2 premieres on January 15th, and there are plenty of things the first two seasons have in common. Still, fans should notice a few key differences. Like the first “Servant’s” second season is made up of ten episodes dominated by great acting performances. The series’ focus will be shifting from season one’s creepy nanny and doll combo to a mysterious cult. Fans should also look forward to an increase in the amount of dark humor running through the series. In a recent feature, Shyamalan had this to say about the dark side of comedy. “This thing that I love and didn’t really acknowledge is that I like dark humor. This is something I really love doing, and I think audiences are ready for it. “Servant” has a lot of inappropriate dark humor. I love that and want it to be throughout my work from now on.”

When discussing what he believes fans enjoy about “Servant” and the rest of his work, the acclaimed director discussed his Indian heritage and how it sets him apart. “The thing they like about my point of view is that it is different. It is from a different place. My grandma believes in ghosts and spirituality. It’s not a coincidence I made stories the way I did. It’s how I grew up. It is what my culture is.” Fans of the show and the series should know he brings that point of view to every production aspect. “When we say of wow, that is cinematic. What we’re really saying is you cared about the frame; you cared about the visual storytelling. When you say, oh, the lighting has a meaning, it’s making me feel something, or when the camera is exactly the right distance from the subject with the right framing, it is like a painting or a singular photograph that is evoking something in me.” When something in the visuals, sound mix, or lighting designs make you feel a particular way, there is a good chance he or one of the four other directors intended for that to be the case.

According to a new interview Shyamalan did with Rotten Tomatoes, this season’s conclusion will mark the halfway point of the series. When first announced, there was a plan for the series to run for six years producing 60 total episodes. Inspired by the workload involved in creating the show along with the unexpected “gift” of lots of downtime due to the pandemic Shyamalan was able to cut the story down to four 10-episode seasons. Season 3 has already been given the green light from Apple. If this season is as well-received as the first, we should be safe to assume that we will get a conclusion to this wonderful series and the story of the Turners, and their weird nanny.

To stay up to date on all things “Servant” remember to follow the show, Apple and us on Twitter or Instagram.
Instagram: @appletv and @servantofficial
Twitter: @AppleTV, @Servant, @RedCarpetCrash, @JVL007

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