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Why insult ‘Clickbait’? Because ‘Clickbait’ insulted viewers

Adrian Grenier in the Netflix series "Clickbait."
Adrian Grenier in the Netflix series "Clickbait."Netflix/COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Q. You are not usually vicious in your reviews and comments about TV shows. Why did you hate “Clickbait” so much? Almost everyone I know who watched it enjoyed the surprises in the show. What was it that moved you in such a different direction?


A. Busted! You felt the frustration and resentment I felt when I reached the end of the Netflix suspense-mystery and wanted my eight-ish hours back. Rather than writing a modulated but somewhat negative review, I let my irritation and impatience dictate my tone.

Because one thing that gets under my skin when it comes to plot-driven dramas like “Clickbait” is a lousy, lazy denouement. If you’re going to keep viewers guessing across an entire season, if the prime mover of the entire show is to reach the solution to the puzzle, if you’re going to set a number of plates spinning, if you’re going to taunt us with a number of red herrings, if you’re going to give us flat characters as you lean on the whodunit factor, then you best deliver. The resolution needs to be solid. And the resolution to “Clickbait,” for me, was just too random and beside the point to satisfy. The responsible party was — well, I won’t spoil it here, but the person who dunnit was someone who barely mattered in the scheme of things. And that person’s emotional motivations were weak.

And the logic behind the guilty person’s nefarious activities was strained. I understand that these kinds of shows rarely fit together perfectly at the end; if you rewatch a series knowing where it all goes, you can usually see a few gaps along the way. I’m willing to suspend disbelief to a certain extent, and cut the writers some slack, especially in an escapist mystery like this. But “Clickbait” asked me to accept far too many unlikely and silly machinations in its journey to the finishing line. The only recent series that comes to mind as having an even worse ending is Netflix’s “Behind Her Eyes,” which took a strange and ridiculous detour into the supernatural. It cheated.


Going in, I liked the idea of “Clickbait,” as it promised to be to Internet anonymity what “The Capture” on Peacock was to deep fakery. But then I felt betrayed, to be melodramatic about it, when it became twisty for the sake of twistiness.



Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.