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Netflix’s Bodkin Takes the True-Crime Satire to Surreal New Heights

Murder comes to the Emerald Isle.

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The small-town mystery is as quaint and prevalent as the locked-room mystery: the more tight-knit a community seems, the more secrets it hides. From classic examples like Twin Peaks to more modern series like Mare of Easttown and Sharp Objects, peeling back layer after layer of a town’s history and scandals makes perfect material for a TV series.

Bodkin, the latest true crime-inspired series on Netflix, is a murder mystery for the modern age. Instead of following a professional investigator or an intrepid amateur detective, it follows Gilbert (Will Forte) a true-crime podcaster looking for the next story to follow his first smash hit.

A Halloween-based cold case brings Gilbert to the small rural coastal town of Bodkin, where — together with Dove (Siobhán Cullen), a journalist from Dublin with her own haunted past, and his podcasting assistant Emmy (Robyn Cara), who’s just looking to prove herself — he must navigate the paranoia, ego, and messy internal strife of the Irish locals to discover just what went wrong all those years ago.

But Bodkin isn’t your usual modern take on a murder mystery. This isn’t updated Agatha Christie — this is something new altogether. Much like fellow surprise Netflix breakout hit Baby Reindeer, Bodkin’s tone is hard to define. While it starts out as a satirical dark comedy about murder-as-entertainment and the true crime podcasting boom, it morphs into a Twin-Peaks-esque surreally comedic adventure, mixed in with a little folk horror.

The local culture of Bodkin is just as important as the clues the three investigators find themselves.


This rapidly shifting tone is pulled off excellently by the cast. Forte’s long history in comedy allows him to step right into the fish-out-of-water role as Gilbert, while Cullen adopts an ice-queen, no-nonsense approach to Dove returning to her hometown. In between the two of them — quite literally — is Cara’s performance as Emmy, who often serves as a liaison pulled in two different directions.

While the story takes a few episodes to move past its initial premise, once you learn how the people of Bodkin operate and how the initial tragedy affected them, it’s hard not to get hooked. Even if some subplots, like wellness-obsessed nuns or a tech conglomerate looking to move in, don’t go anywhere, they all serve as pieces of the puzzle. Like any good streaming series, there’s even a non-linear episode that shows a day of investigation from three different points of view. It doesn’t all matter to the mystery directly, but it makes the answers worth the wait.

It all leads to a next-level finale — a veritable magic trick of tying up loose ends. In one single episode involving eels, caves, an EDM festival, sunglasses, Interpol, paternity, and blood feuds, Gilbert’s search for a good story reveals something far more important: perspective. In the end, the explanation of the original disappearances don’t matter as much as the twisted web of lies that tied the quiet town together.

Bodkin is now streaming on Netflix.

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