It’s winter and you’re cuddled on the couch with your craft beer and gluten-free pretzels looking for a show to watch. Look no further, for I have discovered a true diamond in the rough. The show is called ‘Shut Eye‘ and it streams exclusively on Hulu. Maybe people have overlooked the show because of Hulu’s unimpressive track record for original programming, but I mean to change that. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case with this little treasure. So scroll on, read up and get ready to binge!
- The Cast
This cast is amazing. That’s the only word for it. Each and every one of these talented individuals brings nothing but their best to portray their characters. When I saw that the show’s leading man was played by Jeffrey Donovan of Burn Notice and Fargo, I immediately decided to check it out. He’s one of my favorite television actors and he brings his easy pluckiness to the character of Charlie Haverford. Linda Haverford, the leading lady, is played by KaDee Strickland from Grudge and Secrets and Lies. Add Dexter’s David Zayas and the legendary Isabella Rossellini to the roster and the show is stacked for greatness. But they didn’t stop there! Angus Sampson from the Insidious franchise and Bruce the television series plays Fonso Marks the hot-tempered Roma crime boss. And Linda’s love interest is played by none other than Emannuel Chirqui of Entourage.
- The Story
Charlie Haverford is a grafter and former Las Vegas magician who moved to LA to open up a psychic shop with his wife, Linda and son Nick played by Dylan Schmid (some might recognize him as Baelfire in Once Upon a Time). Shortly after moving to LA, Charlie is approached by Fonso Marks, crime boss of the local Roma crime family and forces Charlie to work for him. The series begins with Charlie getting beaten by the boyfriend of one of his tarot reading clients. The beating results in a head injury that “unlocks” a special gift. Charlie gains the ability to glimpse the future. He struggles with understanding his newfound gift while juggling his family life and obligations to Fonzo. Linda has her own thing going on during all this. She meets a sultry hypnotist named Gina (Chirqui) and gets caught up in a whirlwind love affair. While Charlie works on scamming a rich socialite out of a million dollars without alerting Fonso, Linda and Gina devise a plan to get that money for themselves. One of the guiding rules of Fonso’s crime family is “never steal from a gypsy” and everyone involved soon learns the harsh consequences for violating that sacred rule.
Eduardo Bernal (Zayas) is one of Charlie’s clients and also a high ranking member of an unnamed Mexican drug cartel. Charlie’s visions help heal Eduardo’s son and as a result, he is the first to believe in Charlie’s psychic abilities. However, Eduardo’s unwavering faith pushes Charlie to the edge of sanity and strains his moral fiber in earth-shattering ways. The first season comes to a head with the forced wedding of Fonso’s daughter to his rival’s son where all these elements and characters meet.
The story is steeped in Roma lore and offers an intriguing glimpse into a unique culture. For instance, there is a legend that says the Romani were given permission to steal from God. This special rule was granted to them and them alone because the father of the Romani race pilfered one of the nails from Jesus’s crucifixion. As a tarot card reader, Charlie uses and refers to the tarot often. And as someone who writes paranormal fiction, I’ve studied my fair share of tarot. I can say that the portrayal of the system in Shut Eye is true and accurate if not rudimentary. This makes for a solid background and believable setting that serves to facilitate the stories of the riveting characters.
- The Characters
Shut Eye is a great character driven show. Charlie and Linda are heart-wrenchingly human in every aspect of their lives both in relation to each other and their son Nick, who is struggling with acceptance. I started the show rooting for them and I still haven’t stopped. Charlie’s past as a Las Vegas magician and his history of grifting make him a flawed hero that is refreshingly original. He is tortured by his visions as much as he agonizes over their consequences. He is the underdog rapscallion that audiences love to root for. Linda struggles with her past and her growing relationship with Gina, the hypnotist. Their entanglement leads to high drama that culminates in betrayal and murder. Their story is a downward spiral and watching Linda crack under the pressure adds a powerful level of depth to her character. Fonso is larger than life and fights with his daughters, mother and his rival, White Tony without ever missing a beat. He’s temperamental and driven by greed and lust but has a touching love for his two daughters.
The Roma crime boss is also a secret softie but it’s unsure whether that’s a genuine trait or one he uses to throw his opponents off guard. His biggest conflict is with his mother, Rita (Rossellini) who constantly challenges and undermines his authority in his family and the larger Roma community. He is very conflicted between the traditions of the Romani and adapting to modern society. The conflict is agitated when his mother arranges a marriage between his oldest daughter Drina and the son of his biggest rival.
There you have it. Everything you need to get you hooked on Shut Eye. It streams on Hulu and is definitely binge-worthy. So what are you waiting for? Crack another brew, stoke the fire and lose yourself in Shut Eye!