4 out of 5
Created by: Ellie Beaumont, Drew Proffitt
covers season 1
I play both sides of this coin, I’ll admit, but regardless: it’s nice when a show, or movie, or book, or whatever, advertises itself as something… and then manages to be entertaining just by being that something.
After the Verdict has twists and turns, but I would say it never lies to us: the perfectly beffudled look of Clara (Michelle Lim Davidson), as she’s the lone voice of dissent to an innocent verdict amongst her other jurors; Daniel’s (Sullivan Stapleton) assured, you’re-up-to-something forcefulness when pushing others to agree with the accused’s innocence; Margie’s (Magda Szubanski) swaying opinions, but arrived at by logic; and Ollie’s (Lincoln Younes) complete lack of care either way – all of those personality types hold true throughout the proceedings of the series, and fully informs those twists and turns. Similarly, while we may go back and forth on whether or not Heidi (Tess Haubrich) actually killed her employer – the case we’re witnessing the end of, and her acquittal by these jury members – her desperation for friendship is consistent, and, again, informs why Clara had her doubts, and how she’s able to convince the other mentioned jurors to maybe question their decision after the fact.
…And because of how well these actors inhabit these roles, bringing humanity to what could’ve been one-note personalities on paper, it’s contextually believable how Clara ends up manipulating herself into a friendship with Heidi, supported in various ways by her other new acquaintances, also become friends during these six episodes.
Occasionally, things get a little too cute for the sake of the runtime: forcing people’s hands with rash decisions that probably could’ve been smoother with some breathing room, and there are some pretty heavy subplots that thematically work perfectly (lots of separated couples, and broken relationships), but have some rough edges swept under the rug for a clean conclusion. I would say this is less problematic than it is in most shows, though, especially ones with relatively brief running times: After the Verdict also doesn’t try to milk these for tons of drama, only to throw them away. It’s more that it’s clear that larger issues are at play, but we’re only going to focus on them in detail for the required plot machinations.
My favorite bit of a mystery series, though – which this is, questioning Did Heidi Do It? while signs (or red herrings?) start pointing to her having done / doing other bad things as well – is when we’re allowed to be on the same page as the detectives, and After the Verdict balances that perfectly. The fact that it’s still gripping even after everything is solved suggests how well-designed all of the pieces in play are, and that consistency was a great feeling throughout: not one episode, or one character, felt like a waste of my viewing time, and I looked forward not only to each episode, but also to the hope / possibility that this crew teams up, somehow, again…