Everyone seems to be talking about the new darkly comedic psychological thriller on Netflix starring Kristen Bell. You know, the one with the super long title?
In The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window Bell portrays Anna, a heartbroken woman searching for solace at the bottom of a very large wine glass. Needless to say, she doesn’t find the answers to her woes there but what she does manage to do is get herself into a heck of a lot of trouble.
Anna was once a promising artist with everything to live for. Things didn’t go as planned and daily life for her now is set on repeat, something many of us can somewhat relate to after the last few years living through a pandemic. But for her, there’s an underlying darkness that goes much deeper.
She sits in the same chair, with the same extra large glass of wine, and in her world each glass equates to an entire bottle. Our heroine also has a penchant for mixing her wine with pills which doesn’t help her overactive imagination. She makes the same chicken casserole and stares out the same window watching life go by. She’s the very definition of dead inside.
Things appear to turn around when a new sexy neighbor (Tom Riley) and his adorable daughter (Samsara Yett) move in across the street. At first, Anna thinks she can see a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel but all hope fades when she witnesses a grisly murder. Or did she?
This one will most certainly keep you guessing on the who, what, where, why and how in the hell until the very wacky end. The eight-episode limited series comes from creators/showrunners Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson and Larry Dorf and in a recent interview, the trio explained how they came up with this wine-soaked, satirical slant on the psychological thriller we all hate to love. Or love to hate?
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Their goal, they explained, was to satirize the beloved true crime genre with “The Girl” and “The Woman” titles that have become so popular in the book-to-screen world. Together they wrote the 196-minute series, which is the perfect weekend binge.
“I am a sucker for it,” says Ramras. “If I see a book or movie with ‘girl’ or ‘woman’ in the title, I’m buying it. I know what I’m getting. They’re always satisfying.” In the tried-and-true formula, everyone thinks the girl/woman is crazy but in the end, she’s proven right.
As for Bell’s extremely committed performance, Ramras explains how this role required a lot of trust. “This was the only way it was going to work. We really needed the audience to be invested.”
They shot the series during Covid, which each agrees was cathartic. “Dealing with grief and loss is universal and being able to laugh through these things is just so healing,” says Ramras. “It was an important thing for us.”
Dorf was able to break down this metaphorical “woman in the window” that’s grown so popular in books, film and TV. “She had to have an affliction, a big phobia that keeps her from living her life. We needed something like that but something no one had ever heard of before.”
In this case, Anna has Ombrophobia, an intense fear of the rain. “We did a lot of research Googling uncommon afflictions and found this real phobia and it was perfect. It helped with the story by making it difficult for Anna to cross the street. It kept her trapped,” Dorf explains, adding how Bell would do take after take, soaking wet and freezing cold, in the middle of the night.
Every single detail had to be just right, including those wine glasses. The trio insists they are real and they owe a huge thanks to their prop department for mastering the art of filling wine bottles with the perfect amount of wine so Bell could just open and pour.
Davidson discussed how unintentionally this ended up being a great show for the Covid era. “When we first meet Anna she’s stuck in a rut in her house. She’s staring out the window watching the world go by. Every day is the same and we can all relate to that. But we get to see her finally get her strength.”
Michael Ealy, Mary Holland, Shelley Hennig, Cameron Britton, Christina Anthony and Benjamin Levy Aguilar also co-star opposite Bell, who executive-produces alongside Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum and Brittney Segal, Head of TV at Gloria Sanchez Productions.
Segal says the stars truly aligned with this project. “For years, we were clamoring to collaborate with Rachel, Larry and Hugh, and at the same time we had been fervently searching for a project to bring to Kristen. When they brought us this daring satire, we immediately felt Kristen was a perfect fit. It was kismet.”
Without spoiling that absolutely insane ending, all agreed they wanted it to be absurd, wildly inappropriate and funny. They succeeded. “The story we keep telling is that life is hard and terrible things happen,” says Davidson. “There’s something funny in the absurdity.”