The review is made possible by advanced screeners of episodes 1-10 of The Crowded Room, provided to Agents of Fandom by Apple for review purposes.
The newest Apple TV+ series co-starring Tom Holland and Amanda Seyfried, The Crowded Room, is an intense journey through the life of Danny Sullivan and the awful suffering that molds him. As someone who went into this series blind, with no knowledge of the plot or the novel The Minds Of Billy Milligan which inspires the series, I can confidently say I was not prepared for what was to come.
I’m not a mental health professional, so when I judge whether something is handled appropriately or not, my word is not law. My job is to analyze this series and share my thoughts, not deconstruct whether this is an appropriate examination of mental illness. Certain details will be left out to preserve the viewing experience, but I’m going to do my best to share my journey of watching this series.
The Crowded Room is truly unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t speak to whether some of the choices this series makes are accurate representations of mental health or not. Unfortunately, some of those choices made me uncomfortable to watch. If you or someone you know needs help, click here.
The Crowded Room review: An overwhelmingly difficult watch
Whatever expectations you have about this show, wipe them out of your mind immediately. While this starts out as a distressing watch, as the story unfolds you begin to lose track of what’s real and what isn’t.
The painful feelings you experience in the beginning are compounded exponentially when the series chooses to tackle difficult subjects in ways that sometimes feel inappropriate. These episodes should open with a trigger warning for the complex but very real issues they choose to tackle.
Heading into this series, I expected it to toe the line like a true-crime story, where the focus is on the act itself and the trial. The Crowded Room focuses on these aspects only a fraction of what I was anticipating.
Instead, this is a story about Danny Sullivan—not the crime he commits—but the trials and tribulations of his life that lead him to committing that crime. We’re all forged by our past to a certain degree, but few people have experienced Danny’s level of torment.
As you learn more about Danny, it becomes much easier to sympathize with him. The show takes advantage of this—as your attachment to him grows, so does his pain, and subsequently your pain along with that. Just when you think things can’t get any worse for Danny, life throws another curveball at him that will leave a hole in your chest.
If I haven’t made myself clear: this show is not for the faint of heart. It is devastating, agonizing, and downright difficult to watch. If you decide to watch this show, be mindful that you are going to experience an immense level of pain, and there will be times when you can hardly look at the screen.
Tom Holland and co. give unique performances and navigate a well-structured story
The emotional magnitude and choice to tackle complicated subjects do not make this a bad series. If you’re willing to fight through a mass of fervent gut punches, there is a good TV show to be found in The Crowded Room.
The story is crafted in such a way that leaves you with more questions than answers, but this isn’t inherently bad. You’re left not frustrated at your lack of information, but curious to learn why that information isn’t yet available. You can feel the presence of mystery around every turn, and just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, you realize there’s always more to this story than meets the eye.
The cast does a phenomenal job with what they’re given, especially Amanda Seyfried. She rises to the challenge and displays an impressive level of empathy for the people around her, while not taking shit from anyone. Her co-star Tom Holland is asked to do a lot, but most of it holds up well.
This is unlike anything he has ever attempted in his career, and even if it’s not all perfect, I respect the choice to go out on a limb and take that chance. There are some aspects of his performance that I don’t feel are handled completely appropriately, but it’s no fault of his.
The Crowded Room will likely be a mixed bag among viewers
My experience with this show can be described as a roller coaster, and I expect that will be a common theme for those who decide to watch it. Important messages are embedded within The Crowded Room, but none more so than to always be kind to people.
You never know what someone is fighting that you can’t see on the surface, and the smallest gestures can go further than you think. One wrong look or sly comment can drive someone over the edge, similar to how one smile or compliment can pull someone out of a dark place. Always be kind.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can find it here, or reach out to me personally on Twitter. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no one to talk to, or nowhere to go. While I know this feeling is inevitable as we navigate through life, let someone assist with the recovery whenever they can. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me. You’re not alone, and you will get through this.
The first three episodes of The Crowded Room premiere exclusively on Apple TV+ on June 9. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest TV news and reviews.
'The Crowded Room' Review'The Crowded Room' Review
- Well structured TV
- Good performances
- Excellent tension building
- Incredibly difficult to watch
- Emotional gut punches come one after another
- Some things I feel are not handled appropriately