MTV is taking fans in an interesting new direction with their latest scripted thriller series, Eye Candy, which premiered tonight on the formerly music oriented network. In one word, the pilot can simply be described as disturbing. Eye Candy is essentially The Following for a younger demographic, but it’s too early to tell if that’s a good thing or not.
Eye Candy centers around a young, genius hacker named Lindy, played by Victoria Justice, former star of Nickelodeon’s hit teen show Victorious. By the end of the first episode, she is both the hunter and hunted as she continues to search for any clues that might lead to finding out what happened to her sister.
In the beginning of the episode, Lindy watches helplessly as her sister is kidnapped right in front of her. Three years later, a 21-year old version of the character we were briefly introduced to is using her super sleuth skills to scour the internet for leads. Things quickly takes a turn for the worse, however, when her best friend nudges her to interact with strangers on a dating app, one of whom turns out to be serial killer.
Lindy is stuck between a rock and a hard place when she first discovers this unflattering piece of information. The details are still rolling out, but her character just spent 6-months under the watchful eye of the NYPD after her cop boyfriend turned her in for some kind of illegal hacker activity. It’s not long before the situation elevates and she has no choice but to bring them into the loop. Murder, after all, isn’t for amateurs.
Throughout the episode, the characters ping pong between intelligent young professionals and clueless newcomers to the world of responsible living. It’s hard to pin down whether Lindy’s friends are assets to her search for her sister, or hindrances. Lindy herself, comes across as wish washy, bouncing back and forth between a practical, computer-savvy save-the-world type and giggly school girl hiding behind her faux-resentment of an ex-boyfriend. Somehow the glaring character flaws don’t deter you from wanting to know what will happen next though.
The show mirrors the realities of modern day dating, and the risks that unfortunately go along with it, presenting a worst case scenario situation. On one hand, the ease at which Lindy comes in contact with possible suitors is an attractive feature of dating apps, but on the other, there aren’t any safe guards in place. “K3U” serves to an extent as a public service announcement, warding people away from using technology in this capacity.
Eye Candy is loosely based on the R.L. Stine novel of the same name and has been stretched out over 10-episodes. The length seems about right, too. Anything longer and the show has the potential to lose it shock value and become a poor man’s Pretty Little Liars. As long as the writers pack each episode full of necessary content instead of gratuitous tangents, it should keep the momentum from flailing.
Justice is clearly breaking out of her teen starlet mold as she takes on this new and definitely more mature role. As a character who is deeply traumatized by her past, the actress does an admirable job of getting that across on screen. Although some of the more intense moments, like reacting to the death of her ex-boyfriend, felt a little forced, she show signs of being comfortable enough in this part that there’s room for character development.
It may be too early to call it, but the chemistry she has with the other members of the cast seems to be an asset to the show, as well. As the narrative moves Lindy further down the rabbit hole as she is pursued by her stalker, who seems to be everywhere at once, her relationships with the other characters are sure to be crucial.
All in all, Eye Candy has the potential to be another hit for the network if they play their cards right. The shock value factor is loud and clear, but MTV might have missed the boat on one thing, leading with an excessive amount of violence for the target demographic. It’s hard to judge a series solely based on the pilot episode, but here’s hoping that this is the least of what the show as a whole has to offer.