What/If is Netflix’s steamy new drama, playing with the age old idea of temptation and secrets within relationships.The plot is most basically described as being a gender-swapped Indecent Proposal (1993), a surprising choice given that the film received less than raver reviews, with a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.49 on IMdB. What/If focuses on Lisa Donovan-Ruiz (Jane Levy), a beautiful and smart scientist and business owner who is struggling to get funding for her company, a company that might have helped save the life of her adopted sister, and would save the life of many others. She’s married to a baseball player/bartender/EMT named Sean (Blake Jenner). Everything is peachy until, Anne Montgomery (Renee Zellweger), a scary and well regarded investor offers to fund Lisa’s company, in exchange for one night with Sean, no questions asked. Initially they refuse, but as money gets tighter, they decide it’s the best option for them. I mean, they can get through anything and once it’s over, it’s over. But it’s not that simple, not only for Lisa and Sean, but Netflix as well.
Netflix’s new series, What/If misses the mark of their binge culture brand. Alongside shows like Dead To Me, and Tuca and Bertie, that are actually exploring the nuances of female characters and relationships, What/If seems like the type of female led show we would have accepted alongside Sex and the City. While the directing, editing and costuming are impressive, it is overshadowed by lazy writing filled with cliches and coincidences, playing with chronology unnecessarily, and laughable acting by the main actress in particular. While it tries to play coy and self aware, Lisa herself saying “This whole thing is ripped out of a bad 90s movie”, it seems to have not realized that GENDER SWAP ≠ EMPOWERING. The themes of the show are similar to the low-rated movie: ownership and possession being tantamount to love. Maybe it’s just me, but an entire season of a straight, white couple dealing with the aftermath of something they both agreed to do, is not my idea of compelling entertainment. I rate What/If as 2/10, and I recommend it to those who need something easy and dumb to watch to relax.