In the sweltering heat and thick humidity of the Florida Keys, where hard-luck locals dwell not far from well-off property owners and tourists, mistakes have been made. The Rayburn family is at the center of the latest drama by Netflix, and in Bloodline, a mystery (or mysteries) slowly unravels at a pace fit for the setting.
Actress Linda Cardellini plays Meg Rayburn, the only daughter among three sons, all of whom make their way to visit mother and father upon a special occasion. The reunion, however, stirs up the murky past and creates an uncertain future.
“She’s there in the first episode; their dad describes his children and ‘she’s sunshine of the family,’” explains Cardellini during a recent interview that we did with her in Toronto. “But also my first scene in the show, she’s doing something she is not supposed to be doing.”
Cardellini laughs at the introduction, one that sees her with a man who isn’t her husband. Of course, reputations and first impressions aren’t necessarily to be believed; it’s the case with the entire Rayburn family. There is the eldest Danny (Ben Mendelson), who it’s made clear is the black sheep of the family, struggling with drugs and alcohol. We’ve also got John (Kyle Chandler), the dutiful, responsible son who works for law enforcement. The third son is Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz), who is cavalier but mostly reliable and also a lifelong beacher.
While Danny is unpredictable and becomes one of the driving storylines, Meg remains mostly mysterious for some time as the show proceeds.
“We don’t really get to Meg until maybe the third episode and sort of what motivates her, and what drives her to and from things,” says Cardellini, careful not to give too much away. “You get to know more about them as the story progresses and some characters are more forthcoming.”
That story also involves the future and fate of the family business, an oceanside inn run by patriarch Robert (Sam Shepard) and his wife Sally (Sissy Spacek).
The Netflix model has not only earned a lauded reputation among viewers, but it has endeared creatives behind the camera. When checking out the show for the first time, you may not have a whole picture, but it seems we are at the point when audiences are more willing to trust the writers to take everyone to a fascinating, dramatic, maybe unpredictable place.
“Freedom is that they ordered 13 episodes to begin with, and it gives the creative producers and writers a chance to make a show that doesn’t have to prove itself with only one pilot episodes and then get greenlit,” explained Cardellini.
“Acting wise, you know you don’t have to show all your cards and do everything in the first episode, you get a chance to show the arc throughout the 13,” she continued. “Sometimes when you have a pilot you have to give a generalized version of what you see, especially if that’s how you green light it. Here it’s almost like writing a novel in some way, you have those full 13 hours, and you know you have them to show people the story you want to tell.”