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“All the Light We Cannot See” should not be seen

“All the Light We Cannot See” should not be seen

Scrolling through the endless options on Netflix, my mom and I looked for something new to watch (sorry “Heartstopper,” “Emily in Paris,” and “The Good Place,” but I have rewatched you waaay too many times). Up pops the list of the “Top 10 TV Shows in the U.S. Today,” with “All the Light We Cannot See” holding first place. 

 

“All the Light We Cannot See” is a four-part miniseries based on a novel of the same name by Anthony Doerr. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for the emotional, intertwined stories of Marie LaBlanc, a blind girl living in Nazi-occupied France, Werner Pfennig, a Nazi soldier tasked with hunting down illegal radio broadcasts, and Reinhold von Rumpel, a Nazi officer hunting down a cursed jewel.

 

With a top rating on Netflix’s most-watched TV shows, “All the Light We Cannot See” seemed worthwhile for me and my mom. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel in middle school and was excited for the TV adaptation. Unfortunately, although “All the Light We Cannot See” was the most watched series on Netflix over the weekend, it is not the most liked in my family. 

 

Netflix’s adaptation did not live up to the success of the book, nor did it have the same tone. For a story meant to encapsulate fear, pain, and despair during one of the most barbaric wars in human history, the show brushed over distraught scenes and primarily centered on Marie’s relationship with her uncle and her fascination with the world around her. 

 

And despite rating the series “TV MA,” the show seemed to appeal to a younger, tweenaged audience. Besides lightening up the story in the adaptation, Netflix also included some of their signature moves in teen dramas: adults acting in teenage roles, cheesy dialogue that made my mom and I cringe, a drastically different ending compared to the book, French characters speaking with British accents (as if we wouldn’t be able to understand a French actor who sounds French), and antagonizing villains with comically greased hair.

 

Overall, the entire show felt as if “Outer Banks” was set in war-torn Europe.

 

I mean no offense to “Outer Banks,” of course. I have heard it is an exciting treasure hunt and teen drama, and from the scenes I have seen on TikTok, it would be a worthwhile binge-watch over summer break. 

 

For “All the Light We Cannot See,” the shabby show did not match the mood of the depressing book. 

 

Despite the cringe-worthy acting and accents (especially from Mark Ruffalo, who should stick to acting as the Hulk) there were some beautiful shots of French scenery. The town of St. Malo, a northwestern peninsula of France, was filled with the common, stylistic, antique French architecture. The buildings on set, though sad to see destroyed, were blown up in a perfect way.

 

With all of the bombings, there were a fair amount of suspenseful scenes that I enjoyed as well. I sat on the edge of the couch, praying for the array of American bombs to avoid Marie’s apartment and hoping the Nazi generals would be unable to find the hidden jewel. There definitely were some scenes that dragged on and on and on, but there was enough action (and cliff hangers— this show had the best endings for all four episodes) to encourage me to watch more.

 

All in All, “All The Light We Cannot See” as a TV series was a let down compared to the book, but the four hours wasn’t a complete waste of my lazy Sunday. I would only recommend this show if you haven’t read the book (and if you have the time and energy, you should definitely read the book instead).’

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