This summer, there will be countless shows — many of them very, very good — competing with the sunshine for your attention, but only one of those shows stars the greatest actor of our time Billy Zane. And only one of those shows introduces Billy Zane as he's talking to a CGI squirrel and shaming a woman for having sex so loud it scares the local wildlife.
Screw David Schwimmer; 2016 is the year of the Zanaissance. We're calling it now.
The show in question, Freeform's Guilt, is a melodramatic whodunit that unspools in the aftermath of the murder of a young Irish woman named Molly Ryan (Rebekah Wainwright). Zane plays Stan Gutterie, an ethically-challenged lawyer living in London who comes to defend the prime suspect in the gruesome murder: Molly's American roommate Grace Atwood (Daisy Head).
The show's inaugural season, which debuts Monday, June 13 at 9/8c, almost literally has it all, and just when you think that there's no possible way for the show to pack anything more into the premiere, just when you think things can't get any crazier, the series doubles down on the twists to create the dramatic equivalent of a rushing roller coaster — you want to slow down and get off the ride, but you're also not sure how to do it or why you'd want to.
Spinning a soapy, tangled web that spans continents, the series and the investigation into Molly's death reveals secret trysts, potential hookups and complicated family dynamics; hilariously hints at broaching the tense relationship between Ireland and England when Molly's grieving brother (Kevin Ryan) arrives in town; and winds through the dirty London underground to make a stop at a kinky private sex club before dropping viewers right into the middle of Buckingham Palace. There's no stone left unturned.
With addicting veteran drama Pretty Little Liars winding down, Freeform is likely counting on the twists and turns of Guilt to step into A's soon-to-be vacated shoes. But instead of users trying to identify the creeper with a deep hoodie collection and unlimited texting, they'll be trying to figure out who killed Molly. Or, at the very least, taking bets on how long it takes for all of these attractive people to start sleeping with one another.
In addition to Grace, the potential suspects in Molly's murder include Grace's boyfriend, the suspicious and tortured French artist Luc (Zachary Fall) who harbors an obsession with painting blood-like imagery like all non-murderers do; Grace's professor who may or may not have been involved in a relationship with the victim; and Grace's wealthy American stepfather, played by non-American and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Stewart Head (the actor is the real life father of star Daisy Head). And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, if you're looking for a true quality drama with balanced storytelling, you won't find it here. Guilt doesn't really know when to say when, and it's likely that its focus on trying to be more clever than it actually is, combined with its obsession to shove as much plot as possible into each hour, will come to overshadow the characters and the mystery at the heart of the series. But that's perfectly fine.
Guilt is the ideal summer series to sink your teeth into after the multi-layered Mr. Robots of the world attempt to break your brain. It's fun to watch, and Zanesanity's scenery chewing is a true delight; don't feel bad when you can't look away from the series' latest outrageous twist. It is truly a gift, one that should absolutely be on your weekly DVR rotation if for no other reason than no one will believe you that it's real if they don't see it for themselves. And, of course, Billy Zane.
Someone please tell Psych's Shawn Spencer that the world is finally getting on his level.
Guilt premieres Monday, June 13 at 9/8c on Freeform.