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Why Apple’s Dear Edward Has Split Audiences So Hard


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Apple TV+’s heart-wrenching drama Dear Edward by Friday Night Lights director Jason Katims deals with grief that proves polarizing for some viewers.

Jason Katim’s adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s novel Dear Edward has split audiences. Apple TV+ released the first three episodes of Dear Edward to mixed reviews. The series follows a 12-year-old boy named Edward (Colin O’Brien) who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that kills his older brother and parents. He is sent to live with his aunt Lacey (Taylor Schilling) who is still traumatized by multiple miscarriages but now must learn how to be a mother to a troubled boy.


Additionally, Dear Edward features the families of the plane crash victims and connects them through airline-funded group therapy sessions. Connie Britton shines as Dee Dee, whose husband’s death leaves her to pick up the pieces of his double life, a similar character to Britton’s Nicole in The White Lotus season 1. She befriends Linda (Amy Forsyth) who is pregnant and grieving the loss of the baby’s father. Dear Edward balances a number of characters’ stories with the connecting thread of grief and healing. While the sorrow can be overwhelming, the group learns to help each other get through impossibly tough situations.

Related: White Lotus Cast & Character Guide: Where You Know The Actors From

Dear Edward’s Plot Creates A Mixed Audience Response

dear edward taylor schilling

Those who have watched Dear Edward so far appear split between two avenues: those who consider it a poignant look into dealing with grief, and those who consider it borderline misery porn. Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter writes that the first season of Dear Edwardfeels like 10 hours of 10 (or more) people crying at each other non-stop. There’s no room for anything to echo because of the cacophony of misery and is so loud and so pervasive.” Dear Edward’s depiction of grief creates a controversy similar to Apple TV+’s Shrinking.

While it is understandable to want to avoid 10 hours plus of crying, others argue that Dear Edward offers enough variation to stop it from feeling like a slog. Some have praised Dear Edward as an unflinching look at grief and trauma with stellar performances. In addition to praising Orange Is The New Black Taylor Schilling’s sympathetic performance and Britton’s layered one, critics and audiences alike laud Colin O’Brien’s performance as Edward whose new identity as the Miracle Boy places him in the center of the grief which is a crushing weight for a young boy who just lost everything he knows.

Why Dear Edward’s Look At Grief Is So Polarizing

Connie Britton hugging as Dee Dee in Dear Edward

Apple TV+’s show follows a bunch of characters who will be connected by the tragic plane crash and milks the existing relationships before they become deceased. While the first episode is primarily character-building, there is tension that ends in the plane crash where Edward is found bleeding and traumatized under the crash debris. Some argue that the grief is overdone and borders on overacting, as well as exploitative, but a series about a horrific plane crash with a 12-year-old at the center, is bound to explore loss.

Yet, for those who don’t mind pulling out tissues, it does offer a brutal take on grief. Dramas that yank on heartstrings like Dear Edward and This Is Us are par for the course when dealing with sensitive topics. If good art comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable, then maybe Dear Edward is accomplishing its goal. Since sometimes art has to confront the hardest topics of life, it is only natural that some of these topics split audiences, especially ones looking for escapism. Dear Edward may mirror Apple TV+’s recently debuted comedy Shrinking, but perhaps it’s a good thing that Apple TV+ is releasing shows that confront tough subjects.

More: Friday Night Lights True Story: Real-Life Football Team & Accuracy Explained


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