In 2017, Jessica Biel gave her career a kick in the pants with The Sinner, a show that she produced and starred in, and which netted her an Emmy nomination in 2018. She then took on podcasts, adapting the popular Limetown into a limited series, and now she is joining the true crime wave with a new series for Hulu called Candy, in which she plays accused murderer Candy Montgomery.
True crime aficionados will recognize this is as the “DFW axe killer” case, or the “Texas axe murder”, in which Candy Montgomery killed Betty Gore and was famously acquitted at trial after a psychiatrist attributed her actions—Gore was struck over forty times with an ax, many of the blows coming after she was unconscious—to a “dissociative reaction” and argued that Montgomery didn’t realize she hit Gore so many times. The seminal reporting on the case comes from, naturally, Texas Monthly and journalists Jim Atkinson and John Bloom.
This story has everything: an affair, a gruesome murder, Texas housewives, the 1980s, a sensational trial, it’s easy to understand why there are TWO television shows about Candy Montgomery coming out this year. Candy is debuting first, with Biel starring as Montgomery and Melanie Lynskey playing Betty Gore (Timothy Simons and Pablo Schreiber star as their respective husbands). Later this year, HBO Max will have a limited series called Love and Death in which Elizabeth Olsen stars as Candy Montgomery and Lily Rabe plays Betty Gore. And this is all on top of the 1990 TV movie starring Barbara Hershey as “Candy Morrison”, A Killing in a Small Town, for which Hershey won an Emmy (and was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, father of Maggie and Jake).
Candy looks pretty good, especially Biel as Candy Montgomery. She’s a better actress than she has ever gotten credit for, particularly when playing uptight types, and you can see in this teaser how tightly wound Candy is. And then there is Melanie Lynskey making all kinds of upset faces, and everyone has terrible haircuts and bad Eighties fashion. What really gets me, though, are two things. One is Biel’s pitch perfect “Hey y’all”, the universal Texan greeting for everyone from your actual BFF to your worst enemy. And the other is that this is being billed as a MINISERIES. I thought that word had been banished from the English language in favor of the classier “limited series”, but Candy is being sold as a full-on five-night event, just like in the old days, when miniseries made for event television. Will Candy revive the miniseries for the post-prestige TV era?