Every single chaotic time card in 'Candy.' That’s it.
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Candy, one of the latest streaming installments in the controversial true crime genre, is a whirlwind. And not just because of the events that inspired it.
The five-episode Hulu series stars Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery, a Texas woman accused of brutally murdering her friend Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) in 1980. It's based on real events, and like so many other on-screen stories, Candy doesn't follow a linear timeline. The limited series relies heavily on flashbacks and flash-forwards to give viewers a full picture of the events that led up to Gore's murder, as well as the trial that followed. It's crucial information, especially for those unfamiliar with the case. So, the fact that Candy took the time jump route isn't the problem. The timecards are.
Candy's opening sequence shows imagery of a clock and features the date, "Friday the 13th, 1980," which is when Gore was killed. The first scene, in which Biel's character delivers an important monologue, ends on the first timecard of the series, which reads: "the night before." The series the cuts to the Gore family and gives us our second timecard over a shot of Betty: "the day she died." Admittedly, the timecards in the first episode are FINE, because everything clearly takes place on the day Betty Gore died. It's when Episode 2 kicks off with a "two years before she died" timecard that things really start to spiral.
Over the course of Candy's five episodes, I clocked more than 20 timecards, all of which vary in formatting. Some show specific hours of the day (like 2:00 p.m.), others feature year-long jumps (two years later), a few showcase leaps in months (three months later), several timecards simply display days of the week, while others leap far into the future ("6 years later Don Crowder ran for Governor of Texas"). The lack of consistency and specificity present throughout the cards is frustrating. But there's another factor fueling my exasperation. Candy's timeline is especially messy because it doesn't always use timecards to show significant jumps. Sometimes the series just flashes back without warning and the only only reason you know it's a flashback is because you see Betty alive. Other times we jump to a courtroom scene without warning. It's pure chaos.
People can barely keep track of time IRL, Candy, and you're going to put us through THIS? SpongeBob has better time card management for goodness sake.
Had this story been told in chronological order, I'm sure it would have been much easier on viewers. But as someone who's successfully followed, and even enjoyed, a fair share of jumbled TV timelines over the years (hello, This Is Us), I'm confident there was a cleaner way to bring viewers up to speed. Perhaps start off on the day of the murder, do one big flashback, and work your way up to the trial. But don't start off on the day of the murder, flash back, flash forward, flash forward forward, flash back again, rinse and repeat until viewers are so confused about where they are in time that they're distracted from the overall narrative.
It's worth noting that HBO Max is also adapting the Montgomery/Gore murder in six-episode limited series — Love and Death, starring Elizabeth Olsen. So it'll be interesting to see how they handle the timeline.
For now, it brings me no pleasure to present every single chaotic, headache-inducing timecard from Candy. (I'm almost certain I didn't miss any, but they're so random and fleeting that if you so much as blink at an inopportune time you might miss one.)