Culture Crash 20-43

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

In 2018, Mike Flanagan released his miniseries The Haunting of Hill House. An update of a Shirley Jackson classic, the series worked on every level. It was scary, it had a lot to say on the nature of family relationships, and it was as engrossing as any miniseries I’ve ever seen. So when Flanagan announced his intention to make a follow-up series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, I was intrigued but reserved on my enthusiasm. Surely, Flanagan couldn’t recreate the magic again.

In the end, though, I didn’t need to worry because I loved The Haunting of Bly Manor, which is now streaming on Netflix. One ding on Bly Manor is that it is less scary than Hill House was. Still, though, it retained a lot of the thematic weight and feeling of dread that permeated Hill House, and it definitely has its moments that will crawl under your skin and creep you out. If Hill House was a season about the family you’re born into, Bly Manor is about the family you choose, to similarly beautiful results.

Saying that a miniseries is “like a long movie” is a cliche, and it’s one that I resent. Luckily, both Hill House and Bly Manor seem to be proud of their origins as a TV series. Both seasons feature very intentional episodic structures, with each episode revolving around a certain character and filling in the backstory very methodically over the course of its runtime. I really think these seasons could serve as a template for how to do a streaming series right, especially as Bly Manor cut the length down to 9 episodes from Hill House’s 10. As a viewer, I certainly appreciate the creative team not adding an hour of filler, but letting the content fill out the series just right.

At the end of the day, both The Haunting of Hill House and The Housing of Bly Manor are worth your time if you like incredibly well-told ghost stories.

Both The Haunting of Hill House and the Haunting of Bly Manor are now streaming on Netflix.

I’m Evan Rook.