The Lake is a new series on Amazon’s Prime Video which centers around the story of a young woman spending the summer with her gay birth father at a lake that his family has summered at for his entire life. The family situational comedy explores every element of family situational comedy from parent-child, sibling rivalry, and marital dynamics. The Lake reaches high to create a world of very flawed characters that still has heart and is still funny. But does it hit the mark?
The Conservative Critic asks: is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Lake
Overall Rating: Sorta Good
The Lake takes a page from Schitt’s Creek but doesn’t reach its greatness. The ability to take objectively unlikable characters and give them enough humor and heart to be worthy of rooting for is really lightning in a bottle and it’s something Daniel and Eugene Levy absolutely nailed in Schitt’s Creek but creator of The Lake, Julien Docet, does not fully realize despite Winter Tekenos Levy (sister of Daniel, writer and played cafe owner, Twyla in Schitt’s Creek) leading the writing team.
The Lake does manage to be funny when it tries particularly when navigating the still hot sibling rivalry between adult step-siblings Justin played by Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black) and Maisy-May played by Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Riviera). Gavaris and Stiles have decent chemistry and Stiles’s deadpan wicked step-sister is what really sells the entire premise of their ongoing beef and makes it work.
The rest of the story is a little timid and shallow. The concept of the story is based on Docet’s real life experience with his biological daughter who he gave up for adoption and has a relationship with now. Where sometimes truth in art can really make something bloom and come to life, in this case, it appears that Docet’s fear of sharing a story which isn’t fully his hampered the shows ability to be truly and authentically funny and heartfelt.
The show’s attempts to wander into sincerity rarely work and the younger teen characters are too shallowly conceived to enjoy the amount of screen time they’re given. A lot of the plot is moved by Justin’s biological daughter, Billie, played by Madison Shamoun (All American) and the friends she makes at the camp and yet none of them including Billie have much going on which would make a viewer care much for them at all.
The show is not a failure, it is a fun and simple summer story worth watching for a modest laugh.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Pretty fun
The show is set on a lake where all the families who own/rent houses act like a sort of camp which opens the doors for a lot of zany situational humor from physical combat to late night pranking and even talent shows. There is no shortage of strange, awkward and ridiculous scenarios as well as characters to pull a laugh.
The Lake is not addictive by any means but it’s funny and Julia Stiles really commands the comedy on screen so it definitely does enough to be more than just watchable.
Does it have artistic/intellectual quality?
The Lake is fine and it fits its format fairly well. The performances are all fine with the exception of Stiles who is strong. The writing is a little weak and it’s clear when jokes are a bit of a stretch and when characters are more plot tools than they are realistic representations of human experience. The teen and child characters are given almost no nuance including one of the leading roles, Billie. Outside of being adopted and being interested in music and boys, Billie doesn’t have much going on with her beyond talking about her race. The more side characters have even less substance. Their motivations become unbelievable and forced because of how shallowly they’re explored.
Again The Lake isn’t a mess it just isn’t quite brave or interesting enough to be truly good. Even the jokes and situations that seem sort of edgy lack authenticity and therefore feel a little tired. The show does not make viewers feel sad when summer ends.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: So much yes
Even though the show is about a family who successfully navigated adoption which is an important plotline in today’s times – the rest is so weighted with liberal coding it basically drowns itself in the lake for which it is named.
All Billie can talk about is her race and how it makes her different from everyone else. While exploring that issue isn’t invaluable, it is so liberal to spend so much time focused on the things that separate us that we can’t change instead of the things that bind us. Justin hedges everything he says with some self depreciation about cultural appropriation or insensitivity in some way. It’s meant to make him endearing and goofy but it actually just makes him annoying. Just like real life liberals.
The show also features a very young boy exploring gender identity – granted – the boy is 11 or 12 not 6 or 7 but still it all felt very mascot and very insincerely progressive value dog whistley. Like “oh look we have a pre-pubecent gender queer we’re especially woke.” It just always feels so much more like the beating of a drum than an actual written character from them. Or worse a bit like a patronized show pony.
Overall the show is moderately good and about what you’d expect going into viewing. It’s not breaking any ground but it’s often funny and a fine watch.