'The Romanoffs' review: Matt Weiner's #MeToo episode leaves you confused and far from getting any answers to the burning question
You would assume that Matt Weiner, who has himself been accused of sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, would make a point in 'Bright and High Circle'
The latest anthology of 'The Romanoffs', 'Bright and High Circle', dealt less about the descendants of the Russian imperial family and more about the era of sexual harassment accusations. This chapter talks about the seeds of doubt that are planted when one hears the words "inappropriate behavior". While no one is really sure about what it is that exactly happened, rumors fly everywhere and reputations are in jeopardy. The anthology time and time again balances out the doubts with logic asking for proof. It's hard to pinpoint what's wrong and what's the truth as 'Bright and High Circle' navigates its way through the grey areas of accusations. The plot, however, is a letdown.
The story revolves around a community of friends whose children take piano lessons from a young gay music teacher.
Not much is known about the teacher except that he's really good at his job. Later on in the episode, he gets accused of inappropriate behavior by a mysterious parent and the story (if you can call it that) reflects on how a ripple effect is caused because of an accuser without a face. Never does the chapter talk about what type of misbehavior the teacher did or didn't do, but everyone around him assumes that it was a sexual misdemeanor. The characters of the plot scuttle to find out who the accuser is and if their children are victims of any molestation. What's bothersome is the concept that this plot is based on - a man's reputation hangs by a thread. A strange way to look at #MeToo campaign, don't you think?
It is hard to say which is worse - the way the show handles sexual assault allegations or the way it addresses gender norms. Then there are other problems like the fathers and the brothers being the voices of logic and the women always being the ones going "it was so awkward". Ron Livingston's character Alex Myers is such a dud, it's not even funny. Diane Lane as Katherine Ford could pass off as the only life on this episode. Andrew Rannells' character David Patton, the piano teacher, is another stereotype — the gossip queen who makes fun of people's interiors behind their backs. It's as though the characters have no arcs, which is such a sorry state of affairs when you compare it to Weiner's 'Mad Men'. The anthology even gives us a sneak peek into homophobia in a way, although Weiner and the team try to turn it into a shock factor. A shock it is — but not the nice kind. It only makes us wonder, "What were they thinking really?"
While it tells us a story that one should be tolerant of people different from us, on the other hand, it talks about how they "always knew it" because he was gay. This plot seems as confused and paranoid as most men on the internet are. 'Bright and High Circle' does not have any answers. What's more, it doesn't even want to look for them. It's happy in its elite bubble of a community that would rather close their eyes and wish everything would go back to the way it was, than doing some concrete research. You would assume that Matt Weiner, who has himself been accused of sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement would make a point.
The end of the episode is sprinkled with a stingy dose of the actual theme of the show and even there the ends don't meet. Let's hope 'Panorama' is better.
'The Romanoffs' airs on Amazon Prime on Fridays.