Freeform is breaking out of their mold with this edgy and original new drama about mermaids!
The Show: Siren
The Network: Freeform
The Genre: Fantasy/Drama
The Challenge: Give a show four episodes with which to draw you in, impress you, challenge you, make you feel something deeply. Four episodes for the chance to find out if you care what happens to the characters you’re watching enough to become invested in the story. If after all that, it does none of those things for you? Then no biggie. You gave it a good shot and you can move on. But if you love it, you’ll be glad you stuck around.
The Premise: Welcome to Bristol Cove, a town that worships the myth of mermaids. Except, mermaids aren’t as much of a myth as previously thought to be. When Ryn (Eline Powell) gets her land legs and makes her way into town looking for her mermaid sister, things get dark. Especially since there is a special unit of the government that already knows about mermaids and wants them.
Even when Ryn meets up with Ben (Alex Roe) and his girlfriend Maddie (Fola Evans-Akingbola), things don’t get any easier. Ben and Maddie know all about marine life, but they don’t know a thing about mermaids. So it’s great that they have a source in the town weirdo, Helen (Rena Owen), who is even closer to mermaids than she first appears. But things continue getting darker as Ryn’s sister, Donna (Sibongile Mlambo) is already in the hands of the government.
The mission is made even more difficult when Ben’s friend, Chris (Chad Rook), is taken right along with Donna after she attacks him. But Ben’s buddies, Xander (Ian Verdun) and Calvin (Curtis Lum) are on the case to find their friend.
Siren is easily forging its own path. We’ve never seen a show take this kind of aspect on mermaids. Not that there are many mermaid shows to begin with. But while most shows that have mermaids involved depict them as the good guys or the bad guys with no in between, Siren is real. When Ryn is immediately attacked on land, her instinct leads her to kill her attacker. The situation had us putting ourselves in Ryn’s shoes. When Xander is willing to kill any creature in his path on the way to saving his best friend, we feel the desperation. The characters are three dimensional and there is a large gray area. Ryn doesn’t always make the good decisions, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong. She does what she has to in order to protect herself.
The cast of Siren contributes to the greatness of this show
Every show can only go as far as the talent of its cast. The good news for Siren is that they’ve chosen a hell of a cast to portray their greatly written characters. They’ve taken these characters and given them depth and forced us to feel all the emotions they’re experiencing. We feel angry about some of the situations they are put in. This is all because of the cast chosen. There is a wide range of well known to breakout stars and so far it has proven to be the best decision.
“It just felt like it captured the intrigue and the sexiness [of the show]. Our lead Eline is so amazing and intriguing that it felt really tapped into those ideas.” – Eric Wald (showrunner)
The cast starts with Eline Powell, coming off Game of Thrones. Ryn is powerful and could be terrifying. But Eline brings a gentle aspect into the character. She gives a real taste of a woman in a completely unfamiliar place and the vulnerability that comes with it. You know Alex Roe from The 5th Wave. He brings his experience to the screen as Ben. His character is courageous in most aspects, but scared to tell his family why he doesn’t want to be part of their company. We’ve all had family issues and Ben shows the truth of that. Fola Evans-Akingbola also guest starred on Game of Thrones along with Death in Paradise. She’s making her impact as Maddie. Maddie is smart and capable but Fola shows us vulnerability too. We relate to how passionate Maddie is about her job and her desire to hold on to Ben.
The government story line makes things a little difficult to accept, but every story needs a villain
A government facility showing up in the first minutes of the series premiere had us questioning things. But maybe that was the point. It’s startling that there is an entire task force that knows about mermaids and is seeking them out. When they do get Donna, they seem intent on testing her and taking samples from her. But for what? That’s something that still hasn’t been revealed to us, though we are dying for the answer. The mystery surrounding the government’s intention seems so real. It’s done in such a way that makes us actually want to see more of the villain. It’s actually written in such a way that we have to wonder if the government is really the big bad of the series.
“Ben, he’s the marine biologist, so these are fascinating creatures to study. From Xander’s perspective, the mermaid is their rent check. This is a very, very valuable commodity. So he’s hunting this for that reason. But she’s taken by the military, so therefore you’ve got the third group going on here that has another different agenda.” – Rena Owen, (Helen)
Every scene with the government involved just leaves us with more questions. They did decide to stop doing so many tests on Donna due to the effect it seemed to be having on her. So we were all surprised that it was a ruse by Donna to escape. But Donna isn’t the only one being held in the facility as Ben’s friend Chris is there as well. Though we aren’t sure what they want with him since he was injured by Donna. Are they really attempting to help him heal? Or do they want to see what happens to a human that is injured by a mermaid?
Ben’s roller coaster journey with his family!
We’ve seen it on television time and time again. The wealthy family with a black sheep. More often than not it can get tiring and we lose interest early on. But here we’re interested because of the desire Ben has to be close to his family. Though he chooses to stay away. We want to know why he’s stopping himself from that. Ben is definitely the black sheep, but the mysteries surrounding that family have us hooked. Ben’s family is wealthy and they run most of Bristol Cove. We’re sure many can relate to Ben wanting to be away from the fame that follows his family. Everyone has a time when they need to branch out and live their own lives. Like Ben, many don’t want to live under their parents’ thumbs forever. Ben feels this even more because of the long reaching influence of his parents.
“My character has a deep appreciation for the ocean that I share with him the idea of the unknown. Ninety-five percent of the ocean remains unexplored. I’ve always thought that was really interesting. That’s definitely something that’s weighing on Ben’s mind. There are a lot of questions that he’s asking himself, too.” – Alex Roe (Ben)
We know Ben’s ancestors founded Bristol Cove and the legends involve mermaids. But the residents consider that all just legend. Even though they seem to hold the legends of mermaids in a sort of worship. We definitely think there is something suspicious about Ben’s family and it all starts with his parents. They don’t have any respect for their children or their wishes. They just expect them to join the family business and remain loyal. When Ben chooses to separate himself from them, their angry. We know they have secrets that involve their basic ownership of the town. We do wonder what those secrets are and how much of them Ben and his brother know about. If the boys do know what the secrets are, we’re guessing that’s why their parents want them in the family business so badly.
The mermaids and the mysteries that surround them are enough to keep us on the edge of our seats!
Most of our television mermaid expertise comes from Disney’s multiple versions of The Little Mermaid. Including the taste we got in Once Upon A Time. But Freeform’s version of the mythical creature is something entirely different and it’s wildly entertaining so far. With nothing but the promise of getting better. We have no idea how the mermaids are able to come to land, or even how many of them there are. Is there an entire colony living under Bristol Cove, or are Ryn and Donna the only ones left in the ocean? We know Helen is one. Or, used to be one. But with every answer we get comes more questions. While we love mysteries, we would like to at least get some answers now and then.
“Mermaids have had specific depictions, over the years, so it was fun to flip that on its head. I also wanted to go really deep with what this mythology could be and have almost a scientific, biological take on it. They really feel like oceanic predators.” – Eric Wald (showrunner)
When the mermaids are on land, everything becomes a whole other matter. The cluelessness of Ryn when she first gets her legs is so believable. It’s like seeing someone placed into a foreign country against their will. They have no idea what’s going on and have to learn to adapt. Ryn knows she needs to be on land in order to save her sister, but she isn’t sure she wants to be there at first. Watching her journey to where she actually seems to prefer land is beautiful so far. The new sights, sounds, smells, and the good people she has found. People she seems she can trust. The writing is clearly working for the show because we just want to see more of Ryn’s journey on land and learn more about how she is adapting to her situation.
FINAL VERDICT: There is nothing but a cloud of mystery surrounding this new Freeform show, but the network has created a winner to go along with their edgy new image!
Freeform has completely changed their image. Existing shows have found their way to a bit of a darker side. But Siren is a completely new show that doesn’t have any books, comics, or movies to fall back on. It’s a Freeform original and it’s the show the network is using to showcase their new brand. The show is absolutely getting their point across for us! Extremely edgy with drama that edges more toward the adult side of things. Which is exactly what we’ve been waiting for and we didn’t even know it! The mystery surrounding the mermaids and the dark and hidden truth behind Ben’s family has got us hooked and isn’t letting go any time soon.
While this show is looking great, there are some things that we aren’t liking as much. The weird vibes between Ben, Maddie, and Ryn have us feeling a little awkward. It’s clear that Ryn has a stranger effect on Ben then she does other humans. But it kind of seems like Ben has a strange effect on Ryn as well. This would be fine, except Ben is already in a committed relationship with Maddie and Ryn seems to be having an effect on her as well. This isn’t the typical love triangle and we aren’t sure we like the direction it’s heading in. Then there is the government already knowing about and searching for mermaids. Are we just going to skip over how they already knew about them? So many questions, so little answers!
This certainly isn’t the show for the lighthearted. It’s gritty and can be downright dark at times. There is the essence of a teen drama within the story lines, but it isn’t a show to be judged by first looks. There is a lot of danger and the writers have excelled at creating characters that resonate and actually feel real to the viewers. The actors are taking those characters to a whole other level and making us feel every emotion they’re experiencing. Siren has been a beautiful work of art so far, and we can’t wait to see more!