To kick things off, I have something to admit: I absolutely did NOT realize this show was meant to be a parody when I first watched it. No joke, I chose it because I'm 1,000% in that group of people who voraciously watch (somewhat overdramatic) Girl/Woman thrillers unironically.
So when I clicked on The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window, I genuinely thought I was in for an evening of suspenseful entertainment — which, to be fair, I was; it just wasn't going to be the typical journey I'm used to in that realm.
So the creators — Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson, and Larry Dorf — hit the nail on the head with the title of this satire, but would you believe that I still didn't get it was a full-on parody, even when I saw that comedic actor Kristen Bell was the lead?
For the first few opening minutes of the show, there's very little to clue you into that fact. The premise sets itself up to be very similar to The Woman in the Window, a 2021 thriller movie starring Amy Adams.
Adams' character, Dr. Anna Fox, spends her days at home, chasing her mood stabilizers with red wine and obsessively watching the goings-on of her street — especially those of her newly arrived neighbors, the Russell family.
Well, in Bell's show, the same storyline begins to unfold as we watch her dysfunctionally do things around the house, start (and end) her days with comically large glasses of red wine, mix said wine with mood stabilizers, and occasionally talk to (and lie to) her therapist about how she's doing. The kicker is that both leads even share the same name — Anna!
That being said, the comedic aspects of Bell's show certainly weren't lost on me altogether; rather, I just sort of accepted them as...dark humor?
Watching a woman pour nearly overflowing glasses of red wine at 9 in the morning and slurp the top before picking it up is, well, the perfect balance of tragic and funny. Anyone slurping any kind of drink that like is funny — it just is — but the reality of what she's doing to herself is truly depressing and worrisome.
And there it is: worrisome, yet you can't help but find humor every few moments or so. That theme permeates the plot of The Woman in the House throughout, dragging you along on a journey where you aren't quite sure if you should be laughing, sad, scared, or a mixture of all three.
The real sucker punch of tragedy comes fairly early on in Episode 1 of Bell's show, though, where we painfully learn that she's having delusions about speaking with her daughter — delusions because her daughter is dead.
Who would giggle at the idea of a mother losing her child, you ask? Well, anyone who then gets to the explanation of how the daughter, Elizabeth, actually passed away.
The whole thing just feels unrealistic; no parent, no person, would ever leave their child in a room with a cannibalistic serial killer. Plus, the way her therapist (over the phone) cuts her off while she's talking about it truly makes it feel as if Bell's character was making up a story to avoid the pain of the real one.
As it turns out in the end, though, Anna's story about the cannibal eating her daughter was completely true, which is just... I don't even know.
This only enforced the idea in my mind that I was watching an adaptation of Adams' film. In the movie, it's revealed that Adams' Anna developed the agoraphobia after the death of her daughter and husband. In the miniseries, Bell's Anna develops a phobia of the rain (ombrophobia, apparently) as a result of losing her daughter on a rainy day. But to be honest with myself, I should have realized that they were satirizing the whole thing because of how dramatically Bell collapses in the middle of the road.
The watching of the neighbors is the main central storyline of both The Woman in the Window and The Woman in the House, though they do play out differently. In Bell's miniseries, it's a very handsome widowed father, Neil, and his adorable little girl, Emma.
Just as in The Woman in the Window, Bell's Anna is enjoying an evening of mixing booze and pills while she surveils her neighbors from her living room.
Through the neighbor's window, Anna watches as the girlfriend writhes in pain with a slit throat before collapsing to the ground.
Next thing you know, detectives are in her house accusing her of making a false report (which is a callback to The Woman in the Window). They can see the pills and booze sprawled across the living room and assume that she must have hallucinated the entire thing because, when they went to investigate, nothing appears to be wrong at the neighbor's house.
As Bell's Anna continues to insist that she was not hallucinating throughout the show, she basically goes on an investigative mission to prove that it must have been the handsome dad, Neil, who killed his girlfriend, Lisa. She is emphatic about being right about this, and you start to feel really bad for her as she's continually dismissed.
The scene in the police station here is what really began to clue me in to the fact that this was a parody, though. In addition to blaming Anna's "delusions" on her drug and alcohol use, the detective brings up the loss of her daughter — in a horrifically inappropriate way. I mean, just look at what she says to her:
To my chagrin, I still didn't fully get it though! I was trying SO HARD to understand why this show was the way it was. In reality, I needed to stop thinking so hard and just start going with the flow.
As it turns out, the truth was right in front of me the entire time. As I mentioned, I thought/knew this was some sort of adaptation of The Woman in the Window. Following that train of thought, I should have known who the real killer was from the start. But unfortunately, I got duped by Anna's assumptions, just as I'm sure much of the audience did.
The backstory about the neighbors includes how Neil's wife passed away in a drowning accident and Emma, the daughter, "saw the whole thing." Once Bell's Anna starts suspecting him of killing his girlfriend, she's convinced he killed his wife as well. Throughout her little investigation, she also learns that one of Emma's teachers tragically fell from a lighthouse and died while on a field trip chaperoned by Neil, which only furthers her suspicion that he not only killed his wife and girlfriend but the teacher, too.