Review: What If

With nothing but the latest seasons of DCU superhero shows, and the resurrection of Lucifer all over the new releases section of Netflix, I figured all I really had to lose was a Tuesday afternoon of down time before work. While I do find the concept of the what if scenario to be a fascinating one, The series What If didn’t really strike me as anything especially interesting. Had the previous scenario with all the superhero shows and canceled shows coming back from the dead not been a thing, I probably would’ve passed by this one entirely.

But I ended up checking it out anyway, and… It’s a soap opera.

And just for clarification’s sake, no, I’m not talking about the web series that’s apparently a hybrid of three or four other soap operas on CBS. Honestly, I didn’t even know that what if even existed until I went looking for this What If on Wikipedia.

Netflix’s What If is under the label of a “neo-noir”. Maybe I’m too used to the purple pros of paleo-noir, or the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s Sin City stories, because this did not strike me as noir, neo or otherwise, in the slightest.

The constant melodrama, the teeth marks on the scenery, and the inability to tell one straight forward story and relying on B-plots, and even C-plots to pad out the episode length just screams soap opera to me. And… Embarrassing as it is to admit out loud, I’m vaguely familiar with soap operas. The Young and the Restless is my mom’s religion, and As The World Turns was a close second place. In exchange for putting up with me telling her all about what happened on WWE television and pay-per-views, she’d bore me to tears with recaps of these shows. I guess it was her unique way of teaching me the concept of karma? Also, I think everybody’s heard the old joke about how professional wrestling, WWE in particular, is a soap opera for men, so… Yeah. That.

Like a lot of shows, I feel like the B-plot and C-plot are only there to justify the hour long episode lengths. If you’d cut them out entirely, the show would easily be half an hour long. And really, when did the concept of a half hour show become such a dirty word? Yeah, it’s short, but it wouldn’t feel like such a tedious slog just to get to the parts of the story I might have even the vaguest hint of interest in.
Of course, I’m saying all this with no real idea if the story of Lisa and Sean has any overlap with the other stories going on. I gave this show the ole TJB sampler treatment of watch three episodes and see if I still want to keep going… And found myself so ungodly bored that I was spending the majority of episode 2 playing Bejeweled on my phone instead. I don’t think I even made it through episode 3.

The story of Lisa and Sean in the grips of a psychotic billionaire philanthropist that even the show itself admits is a ripoff of Indecent Proposal seems to be the overarching storyline throughout this series, and even this can’t hold my attention. I found myself laughing more at the unintentionally funny than any of the legit attempts at witty one-liners.

I guess maybe if you like soap operas, you can take solace in the fact that Netflix has you covered. Beyond that crowd, though, I really can’t recommend this show to anybody. I went in with low expectations, and somehow, I still came out disappointed.


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