I was one of the first wave of people in the UK to have access to Facebook, way back in 2005, when I happened to be at one of the universities chosen for their pilot program. Those were innocent days, posting albums of photos from drunken nights out without fear that your mum would ever discover them, much less comment with a poorly chosen GIF. Sadly, someone fed Mark Zuckerberg after midnight, and we all watched the platform morph into today’s data harvesting, democracy destroying behemoth. Not content with current levels of dominance, now it also wants to be a video streaming platform with original content, the deformed love child of Netflix and Youtube. When I heard this news, my soul screamed NO.
But there’s a reason those clever ducks are worth billions of dollars. They know our weaknesses and exactly how to use them to reel us in.
I love podcasts, and one of my first loves was Limetown. It’s a finely crafted piece of audio drama, the story of a town full of people that disappeared overnight and a scientific experiment gone terribly awry. Season one ended on a tantalizing cliffhanger back in December 2015 and then…nothingness. Like the town itself, the Limetown podcast fell eerily silent. Life went on, as it must, and eventually I began to forget. Then, lo and behold — 2018 brought not only a prequel book, but a second podcast season just as intriguing as the first. It felt like reuniting with an old flame who is even better looking that you remembered.
I also love Jessica Biel. In the early days of her career she flew under my radar, blending in with the other midriff-baring starlets of the mid-2000s in a series of Bechdel-test failing flops. It took a move into production, and onto the small screen, for Biel to finally get the kind of role her talent deserves. Her raw, nuanced performance in season one of The Sinner was a masterclass in constrained emotion. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and it had nothing to do with her admittedly perfect face.
So when I saw a trailer for a Limetown TV series starring Biel — on a sponsored Instagram story, of course — my heart leapt. But wait… Facebook Watch? Really? Was there no other way? I wish I could tell you I held to my principles and gave the algorithm the middle finger, but the lure of great content was just too strong. I held my nose and, after a surprisingly difficult search process, reluctantly hit play on the first of ten episodes.
Reader, I binged them all.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the source material, Limetown is a whip smart adaptation. Pitch perfect performances all around. A muted colour palette and dreamy camera work that feels like viewing the world through a glass, darkly. Tight, fast-paced storytelling and a constant, humming tension that keeps you clicking ‘Play Next’. Ugh. They nailed it. I couldn’t help but recommend it to friends, and they all loved it too. Plus, if you’re signed up to Facebook it’s 100% free to watch — no forgetting to cancel after a trial and accidentally paying for a subscription for three months. If I suddenly found my viewing interspersed with fraudulent political ads, I might have to change my mind, but for now I think I can overlook the anti-vaxx groups and Brexit memes just long enough to enjoy some truly excellent programming.
I have heard the future, and it involves me watching TV on Facebook.