• Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
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Series review: The Alienist

  • Published at 03:59 pm April 25th, 2021
The Alienist
'The Alienist' has not been cancelled or confirmed for a third season Collected

The series which, while flashing glimpses of the lifestyle of the very rich and famous and the very well-connected, drags you both reluctantly and with a certain eager morbidity through the sleazy underbelly of nineteenth century New York, where human life is not worth the nickel spent to buy an iced lolly

Dear Reader, did you know that over a century ago, people who were mentally ill were considered to be alienated from their true selves, and that the doctors who treated them were referred to as alienists?  Fascinating!  I am working my way through a series which, while flashing glimpses of the lifestyle of the very rich and famous and the very well-connected, drags you both reluctantly and with a certain eager morbidity through the sleazy underbelly of nineteenth century New York, where human life is not worth the nickel spent to buy an iced lolly. 

For in its breadth, extent, backdrop, darkness, sophistication and collective horrors of post-industrial urban life, it could just as well have been the London at the height of empire.  The variety of accents of communities recently migrated to the new Jerusalem of opportunity lends a certain charming authenticity.  And when the eviscerated remains of boy prostitutes, staring sightless at the night sky with gouged-out eyes, begin to appear with frightening regularly, a vibrant city is gripped in the throes of a helpless fear, desperate to make a pact with the devil, if only they can be rid of the curse that has befallen a quivering population.  An elegant cast, each nursing their personal range of demons, is pitted against the establishment, a corrupt police force, an even more corrupt glitterati, and political and financial interests eager to embrace the vast opportunities that the impending twentieth century seems to represent.

We’re spoilt for choice with programs weaving ghastly tales of rape, murder and cruelty.  A dismal testimony of what we crave for as the viewing audience.  But what distinguishes this tale of carnage is the brutality, ruthless use of power and overriding elegance that are so skillfully juxtaposed to create one absorbing moment after the next.


Also read: Series review: The Undoing


The Alienist.  Netflix.  Take the series one episode at a time.  Otherwise, binge if you are so inclined.  Do let me know your thoughts.