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Sharp Objects: Our First Impression of the Twisted HBO Thriller

This is no Big Little Lies

Sadie Gennis

One of the most anticipated shows of the summer, HBO's Sharp Objects premiered at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas on Thursday. The gothic murder mystery stars Amy Adams as Camille Preaker, a journalist who returns to her small Missouri hometown of Wind Gap to report on the murders of two young girls.

Adams joined executive producer Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel upon which the series is based, as well as showrunner Marti Noxon and director Jean-Marc Vallée for the premiere screening, which was followed by a Q&A.

Sharp Objects has already drawn several comparisons to Big Little Lies, another female-led HBO adaptation of a popular novel directed by Vallée. Based on the first episode, we can confidently say that Sharp Objects makes the moodiness of Big Little Lies look like child's play. The series is a bleak thriller, weaving together the mystery of who is murdering and mutilating young girls in Wind Gap in the present day with Camille's lingering trauma, largely stemming from the death of her younger sister Marian and the impossible expectations set by her image-obsessed mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson).

Amy Adams Looks Like a Gone Girl in This Sharp Objects Trailer

Rounding out Camille's family is her troubled younger half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen), whose presence provides ample opportunity for the show to explore one of the more twisted family dynamics on television. And the fact that there are three uniquely disturbed women at the core of this show is no fluke. When it came to crafting the novel, Flynn explained that it was a priority of hers to provide a rare look at how violence and abuse is carried and reflected within a multi-generational family through these three women.

"What I was discovering [as I was writing it] was there were a lot of stories about men and violence and men and rage and how they handled that and not much about how women did that and how women handled their anger and what that looked like, particularly generationally," Flynn said.

​Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Anne Marie Fox/HBO

This violence seeps into every aspect of Sharp Objects, a show anchored by a woman who's barely hanging on. A high-functioning alcoholic who was recently hospitalized for self-harm, Camille's trip home brings up issues she'd been avoiding for decades. And rather than flinch away from Camille's destructive tendencies, Sharp Objects lingers in them, a luxury afforded by the fact the producers opted for an eight-episode miniseries rather than a two-hour film, something that Adams said she thinks is a great format for a story as deep as this one.

"If you go back and read Sharp Objects, the internal monologue of Camille is almost impossible to capture in a 90-minute story, so it's so well suited to this," said Adams.

"I think [the limited series] is the near future of storytelling," she added.

But for those wondering if the drama really will be a true miniseries or whether it will follow in Big Little Lies' footsteps in at least one way and return for more, we're sorry to disappoint. As of now, there are no plans to continue the story into a second season, so savor these eight episodes, because they'll likely be all you get.

Sharp Objects premieres Sunday, July 8 at 9/8c on HBO.