Compared to rivals Netflix and Amazon, Hulu came late onto the original content scene. However, they’ve made up for lost time with a few outstanding series. One of Hulu’s newest series is Shut Eye.
(It doesn’t take a psychic to tell you there’s going to be spoilers ahead)
The first impression you may get of Shut Eye is that it is very reminiscent of the late great The Riches. The Riches, for those of you not in the know, was about a family of gypsies who took over the identity of a well-to-do family by the name of…well…Rich.
It was a comedy at times. Other times it was family drama. All of it was wrapped around the Malloy family protecting their identity, finishing cons, staying one step ahead of the head of the clan, and trying to go on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, the series disappeared after the second season without a word from FX.
Shut Eye revolves around the Haverford family. Technically, the Haverfords aren’t gypsies, however, they do work for gypsies scamming people who come into their fortune-teller parlors. In season one, the Haverfords cook up a scheme that, if it pays off, will let them go on the straight and narrow. If it doesn’t pay off it may just get them killed. That’s about where the similarities end.
Early in the series Charlie is beaten by a jealous client’s boyfriend. The side affects of the beating are Charlie’s psychic powers. The pretend psychic becomes real, but don’t get wrapped up in the fact that Charlie actually starts to see the future. Yes, his visions play a vital role in the series and how he interprets these visions has an affect on him. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention how cool some of these visions are played out on the screen. Charlie drowning in a pool is an especially trippy scene. However, it’s the story and the cast that make Shut Eye a must watch.
Various roadblocks are thrown in front of Charlie and Linda making the long con they’re working on a little more difficult to pull off. The least of these roadblock is Charlie’s visions. The bigger of the roadblocks is Fonso (Angus Sampson), the head of the gypsy family. While we, the viewer, are watching the plot unfold we are being distracted from seeing what’s going on behind the Haverfords’s back. The first season of Shut Eye easily ranks up there with great con movies like The Sting, The Grifters, and Ocean’s 11.
A series like Shut Eye works because of the cast. Donovan may be best known for his role as the burned CIA agent Michael Westen in Burn Notice, but his roles in the second season of Fargo and his role as Captain J.J. Jones in The Changeling showed Donovan could act in more than just an action vehicle. Donovan turns in one of his best roles to date in Shut Eye.
The bane of Charlie’s existence in Shut Eye is Fonso. As mentioned earlier, Fonso is played by Angus Sampson. Sampson creates a character that rivals some of the best villains on television. By the time the season ends you will swear you saw slime dripping off of him. You’ll also see a more tender side of Fonso that will leave you saying, “He’s not that bad of a guy.” You’ll be thinking this right up to the final credits when he confirms your early believes.
Sampson is one of those actors when you see him in Shut Eye he will look very familiar. He should look familiar to viewers. Samson played Tucker, half of the ghost hunter team in the Insidious trilogy. You’ll also recognize Sampson as the Organic Mechanic if you paid close enough attention to Mad Max: Fury Road. Sampson also played opposite Donovan in the second season of Fargo.
KaDee Strickland (Secrets and Lies), David Zayas (Dexter), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), and the always amazing Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet) round out one of the best casts you’re likely to see on any series this year.
Once you start watching Shut Eye you won’t want to turn it off.