Is Tom Holland’s latest collaboration with Apple TV, “The Crowded Room,” any good? Yes, it is. Despite the terrible reviews, the show’s production value and performances speak for themselves. With so many shows available on various streaming platforms, and few with queer representation, it’s harsh to consider “The Crowded Room” a bad show when there are genuinely worse ones out there.
The Crowded Room’s biggest problem with the show is the attempt to deceive viewers with plot twists, which has angered some people, especially critics.
However, I personally saw through it from episode one, so it didn’t bother me, but I understand how it could aggravate others.
I think the show should’ve focused more on the character’s psychological struggles and past, saving the plot twists.
Be warned; this post contains spoilers. Despite its flaws, “The Crowded Room” is an enjoyable and entertaining show that may not win awards, but you’ll still enjoy watching it.
A Blend of Psychological Drama
In the realm of psychological thrillers, “The Crowded Room” emerges as a gripping and enigmatic miniseries that delves deep into the human psyche.
Inspired by the 1981 non-fiction novel “The Minds of Billy Milligan” by Daniel Keyes, the series brings to life the complex story of Danny Sullivan, masterfully portrayed by the talented Tom Holland.
Set against the backdrop of a New York City shooting in 1979, “The Crowded Room” embarks on a journey of self-discovery and introspection as Danny recounts his tumultuous life through a series of interviews with interrogator Rya Goodwin, played by the exceptional Amanda Seyfried.
“A Beautiful Mind” and “Euphoria” Influence
The 2001 biographical drama “A Beautiful Mind,” directed by Ron Howard and based on the life of Nobel Laureate John Nash, serves as a fundamental influence for “The Crowded Room.”
Both narratives center around individuals grappling with mental health challenges and exploring the intricate workings of their minds. While “A Beautiful Mind” delves into schizophrenia, “The Crowded Room” focuses on dissociative identity disorder, offering viewers an insight into the complexities of multiple personalities.
Just as Nash’s struggles and triumphs are portrayed with depth and authenticity, “The Crowded Room” endeavours to present a compelling portrayal of its protagonist, Danny Sullivan, played by Tom Holland.
“Euphoria” premiered in 2019. “Euphoria” explores teenagers’ lives navigating the complexities of identity, relationships, and mental health.
This gritty drama dives fearlessly into challenging and often dark themes, examining the raw emotions and struggles faced by its characters.
“The Crowded Room” mirrors this approach in its own exploration of mental illness, aiming to provide a thought-provoking and emotional journey for its audience.
Creator and Head Writer’s Intentions
Akiva Goldsman, the creative force behind “The Crowded Room,” brings a distinct vision to the miniseries that shapes its narrative, themes, and character exploration.
As the head writer, Goldsman is driven by a genuine commitment to delving into the complexities of mental health.
Inspired by Daniel Keyes’ nonfiction novel “The Minds of Billy Milligan,” Goldsman seeks to create a nuanced and empathetic portrayal of dissociative identity disorder, inviting viewers to empathize with the challenges faced by individuals grappling with this condition.
With a focus on authenticity and realism, the series aims to shed light on the intricacies of the human mind, leaving behind superficial depictions and instead presenting a thoughtful and introspective exploration of mental health.
The Enigmatic Journey of Danny Sullivan
At the heart of Goldsman’s vision is the intricate character of Danny Sullivan, portrayed by Tom Holland.
Danny’s journey is at the core of the series, and Goldsman seeks to peel back the layers of his personality to reveal the different identities residing within him.
Through skillful writing and meticulous attention to detail, Goldsman aims to craft a compelling and multi-dimensional character whose struggles, emotions, and triumphs resonate deeply with the audience.
The series endeavours to create an immersive and emotionally resonant experience by developing Danny’s story.
Breaking the Stereotypes of Mental Illness
Goldsman’s vision goes beyond merely telling a story; it challenges stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding mental illness.
The series seeks to dismantle stigma and foster understanding and empathy by humanizing the characters and placing them in relatable contexts.
Goldsman’s commitment to portraying mental health with sensitivity and accuracy is evident through the portrayal of Doctor Rya Goodwin (played by Amanda Seyfried), whose pursuit of recognizing certain mental illness diagnoses reflects the writer’s dedication to challenging preconceived notions within the field of psychology.
As with any creative endeavour, “The Crowded Room” has undergone a long journey from concept to screen.
Originally conceived in the 1990s and attached to renowned directors James Cameron and Joel Schumacher, the series faced various development challenges and changes over the years.
Goldsman’s dedication to seeing the project through to fruition speaks to his unwavering belief in the story’s significance and the importance of sharing it with audiences.
“The Crowded Room” introduces viewers to a gripping and complex narrative centred around the life of Danny Sullivan, portrayed by the talented Tom Holland.
The series unfolds as a psychological thriller, blending elements of drama and mystery to immerse audiences in a tale of self-discovery and redemption.
A Dark and Mysterious Beginning
The story commences in the summer of 1979, where we meet Danny Sullivan, a young man residing in upstate New York.
Danny’s life is fraught with challenges as he struggles with the loss of his twin brother, Adam, and endures an abusive stepfather, Marlin (Will Chase).
Danny’s social anxiety and awkwardness at school also isolate him from his peers, leaving him with only two close friends – Johnny (Levon Hawke), a happy-go-lucky magician, and Mike (Sam Vartholomeos), a skilled athlete.
A Fateful Encounter and an Unlikely Alliance
One day, after a harrowing encounter with bullies, Danny’s life takes an unexpected turn when he is rescued by Yitzak Safdie (Lior Raz), his new neighbour.
Seeking solace from his turbulent home life, Danny moves in with Yitzak, only to discover that Ariana (Sasha Lane), an emotionally distant and troubled young woman, also resides there.
Ariana’s fear of her childhood rapist adds an additional layer of complexity to the storyline. As their paths intertwine, Danny and Ariana form an unlikely alliance, leading them to an eventful night in Rockefeller Center, where they confront Ariana’s rapist.
Doctor Rya Goodwin’s Investigation
The series employs a framing device to structure the narrative, utilizing Doctor Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), a professor of psychology, as a central character.
Detective Matty Dunn (Thomas Sadoski) brings Goodwin onto the case to understand Danny’s plight and provide a proper defence for him during the upcoming trial.
As Goodwin engages in a series of sessions with Danny, the miniseries dives deep into his psyche, exploring his identity’s complex and fragmented aspects.
A Journey of Self-Discovery
Throughout the ten-hour journey, “The Crowded Room” masterfully navigates between the present-day investigation conducted by Goodwin and the exploration of Danny’s past.
As the story unfolds, viewers witness Danny grappling with his multiple identities, providing insight into his enigmatic and turbulent life.
The miniseries unravels Danny’s hidden truths, secrets, and pivotal moments, ultimately leading to the life-altering event.
A 360° Look at “The Crowded Room”
“The Crowded Room” has garnered attention from both critics and audiences since its premiere on Apple TV+. Let’s take a comprehensive look at the critical reception to the miniseries.
The miniseries has received mixed reviews from critics, as reflected in its Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores. On Rotten Tomatoes, “The Crowded Room” holds a 34% approval rating based on 50 reviews, indicating a somewhat polarizing response from critics.
Metacritic, which calculates a weighted average based on reviews, assigns the series a score of 48 out of 100 based on 26 critics, suggesting a mixed or average reception.
Critics’ opinions on “The Crowded Room” are diverse, with both praises and criticisms directed at various aspects of the series.
Tom Holland’s Performance: Critics have lauded Tom Holland’s portrayal of Danny Sullivan, praising his ability to convey a wide range of emotions and complexities in the character.
Ambitious Themes: The series is commended for tackling ambitious themes related to mental health, personal identity, and trauma, aiming to shed light on the human condition.
Introspective Exploration: Some critics appreciate the introspective nature of the narrative, as it delves into the psyche of the protagonist and explores the impact of mental illness on his life.
Pacing and Length: One common criticism is the series’ pacing and length, with some reviewers feeling that the narrative could have been more concise and focused.
Storytelling Choices: Some critics find fault with certain storytelling decisions, particularly in terms of how the narrative unfolds and the use of the framing device with Doctor Rya Goodwin.
Lack of Originality: A few reviewers note that the series treads familiar territory when it comes to exploring mental health themes, lacking a truly innovative perspective.
Tom Holland’s Standout Performance
Tom Holland delivers a standout performance in “The Crowded Room,” bringing depth and emotional authenticity to the character of Danny Sullivan.
With his exceptional acting range, Holland convincingly portrays the complexities of Danny’s life, from his traumatic past to his struggles with dissociative identity disorder.
He captivates audiences with his ability to navigate between different identities, effectively conveying the internal conflicts and emotional turmoil of the character.
Holland’s compelling portrayal makes Danny Sullivan a compelling and relatable protagonist, anchoring the series with his powerful performance.
At the heart of “The Crowded Room” lies the enigmatic character of Danny Sullivan, brought to life by Tom Holland’s remarkable portrayal.
Danny’s journey is a deeply complex and emotionally charged one as he grapples with past traumas, multiple identities, and the quest for self-discovery.
Through Holland’s nuanced acting, viewers witness Danny’s vulnerability, strength, and resilience in the face of overwhelming challenges.
Holland deftly portrays the intricacies of dissociative identity disorder, allowing audiences to empathize with Danny’s struggles as he confronts the different personas within him.
The layers of Danny’s character are carefully unravelled, revealing a captivating exploration of mental health and the human condition.
In his hands, Danny Sullivan becomes more than just a character; he becomes a symbol of human resilience and the enduring spirit to confront one’s past.
Holland’s exceptional performance elevates “The Crowded Room” to a deeply impactful and emotionally resonant narrative, making it a must-watch for fans of powerful storytelling and outstanding acting.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout performances among the supporting cast.
Amanda Seyfried is an American actress and singer known for her versatile film, television, and theatre performances.
Born on December 3, 1985, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Seyfried gained fame with her role in “Mean Girls” (2004) and has since starred in numerous successful films such as “Mamma Mia!” (2008), “Les Misérables” (2012) and “Ted 2” (2015).
She has also made notable television appearances in series like “Big Love” (2006-2011) and is recognized for her philanthropic efforts, advocating for animal rights and environmental conservation.
Seyfried’s talent, versatility, and dedication have solidified her as a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.
Amanda Seyfried shines as Doctor Rya Goodwin, a professor of psychology, brought onto the case to understand Danny Sullivan’s psychological state.
Seyfried’s performance is marked by depth and nuance, as she navigates the complexities of her character’s personal and professional life.
As Goodwin engages in sessions with Danny, Seyfried skillfully conveys her character’s determination to explore overlooked mental illness diagnoses and challenging conventions within the field of psychology.
Her portrayal adds a layer of emotional depth to the narrative, making her scenes with Tom Holland captivating and impactful.
Sasha Lane is an American actress known for her captivating performances in film and television. Born on September 29, 1995, in Houston, Texas, Lane rose to prominence with her breakout role in the critically acclaimed film “American Honey” (2016).
Her raw and authentic portrayal of a free-spirited teenager earned her widespread praise and recognition.
Lane’s talent and unique screen presence have since led to various projects, including roles in “Hearts Beat Loud” (2018), and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (2018),
Sasha Lane delivers a compelling performance as Ariana, a troubled young woman who forms an unlikely bond with Danny Sullivan.
Lane’s portrayal of Ariana’s emotional struggles and fears is raw and authentic, allowing viewers to empathize with her character’s traumatic past.
Through Lane’s nuanced acting, Ariana becomes an enigmatic and multi-dimensional figure, adding intrigue to the unfolding story.
Emmy Rossum is an American actress and singer known for her acclaimed performances in films like “The Phantom of the Opera” (2004) and the TV series “Shameless” (2011-2021).
Born on September 12, 1986, in New York City, she is recognized for her versatility and talent as both an actress and musician.
Emmy Rossum portrays Candy Sullivan, Danny’s mother, who plays a pivotal role in his life.
Rossum’s performance captures the complexity of a mother trying to cope with her own challenges while supporting her son.
Her portrayal strikes a balance between vulnerability and strength, creating a memorable and heartfelt depiction of a mother-son relationship affected by adversity.
Will Chase delivers a convincing performance as Marlin Reid, Danny’s abusive stepfather? Chase’s portrayal of Marlin is menacing and unsettling, effectively evoking fear and tension within the household.
His character serves as a catalyst for Danny’s struggles, providing a source of conflict and drama that adds depth to the series.
In addition to the mentioned performances, the series benefits from the contributions of other talented actors, including:
Levon Hawke as Johnny, Sam Vartholomeos as Mike, Lior Raz as Yitzak Safdie, and many more.
Each supporting cast member brings their unique flair to the narrative, enriching the story’s emotional tapestry and enhancing the overall viewing experience.
“The Crowded Room” adopts a 10-episode format to unfold its intricate narrative, which has advantages and challenges in shaping the viewing experience.
The extended format allows the series to delve deeply into the complexities of Danny Sullivan’s life, providing ample space for character development and exploration of the themes at hand.
The 10-episode structure offers the opportunity to build suspense, gradually reveal crucial details, and keep viewers engaged with the unfolding mystery.
While the 10-episode format offers narrative depth, it also presents the challenge of maintaining consistent engagement throughout the entire series.
For some viewers, the slow-burn storytelling and elongated runtime might lead to occasional moments of diminished interest or pacing issues.
Sustaining the audience’s attention over multiple episodes requires a careful balance between character-driven introspection and maintaining a compelling narrative arc.
Viewers’ preferences may vary regarding episodic pacing, with some appreciating the methodical exploration of Danny Sullivan’s character and the complexities of his mental health journey.
Others prefer a more condensed storytelling approach to maintain a sense of urgency and momentum.
Ultimately, “The Crowded Room” must balance providing ample time for character development and storytelling while ensuring each episode contributes to the overall narrative momentum. Finding this equilibrium ensures that viewers are both emotionally invested in Danny Sullivan’s journey and eager to follow the unfolding revelations until the series’ conclusion.
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