TV Review: Hulus’s “Candy” is a Fascinating Tale of Lust and Murder with an Outstanding Performance by Jessica Biel

Audiences will be mesmerized by Jessica Biel’s performance as Candy Montgomery in Hulu’s newest true crime drama, Candy. Based on the events of the real-life murder of Betty Gore in Texas in 1980, Candy Montgomery (Jessica Biel) is your average active housewife in the community. She seems to have it all, kids, a loving husband, an active social life, and the ideal house to host parties. Looks are deceiving because Candy is bored by her mundane existence.

While Candy is envied by her social circle, the reality is that she is not happy. The suburban housewife role has lost its luster. Trying to spice up her marriage to Pat (Timothy Simons) only results in frustration. Candy looks elsewhere for the missing passion she needs. Allan Gore (Pablo Schreiber) is a family friend, teammate on her volleyball team, and the object of Candy’s desire.

At home, Alan’s wife Betty (Melanie Lynskey) is struggling. Laid off from her job, she wants to foster a child (which ends poorly), and then gets pregnant with her second child. Allan is having a hard time dealing with Betty’s needs, and when Candy proposes the affair, he is only too happy to engage.

As Allan and Betty’s marriage strengthens, the affair comes to an end, and everyone seems to be ok. That is until June 13, 1980, when Allan is away on business, and Candy comes to visit Betty to pick up a swimsuit. The community and everyone in it, will never be the same.

Compressed into a five-episode arc, Candy spares no expense at getting to the crime and allowing the validity of the truth to be determined by the viewer. Jessica Biel has a tough role to play, as she must be the perfect wife and mother, while at the same time mask her insecurity and longing. Biel is completely immersed in her role and spends much of the series having to layer her performance from one scene to the next as Candy’s complicated emotions have Biel running the gamut of how to act in front of everyone.

Biel’s Candy Montgomery is riddled with a razor-sharp wit, a sharper tongue in her gossip sessions with friends, and a longing for something more. Thanks to Biel’s performance, the audience will find Candy to be very likable while at the same time despisable. The power and effectiveness of Candy is the result of this powerhouse lead from Biel.

Melanie Lynskey has an equally difficult job in her role as Betty Gore. At first Betty comes off as a needy wife who is unable to cope with the difficulty of raising kids and an inattentive husband. Lynskey levels the playing field for Betty by giving depth and humanity to Betty. She is a loving person who just wants some friends and some affection from her husband.

Thanks to Lynskey’s touching performance the audience won’t see that Betty was ignored or marginalized by the producers. She is the victim and Candy seems to respect that notion with how Lynskey has crafted her performance in the show.

From riveting performances to detailed set decorations, Candy will bring viewers back to the late 1970s/early 1980s when wood paneling covered every house interior. The perms, big glasses and the long station wagons with the rear door will trigger the fond memories of the time. While viewers will enjoy the detailed set pieces that evoke the era, they will be swept up in the complicated and personal stories that are led by a perfect performance from Jessica Biel.  

Candy is set to premiere as a five night exclusive with episode one on May 9, and each new episode following the next four days.