The survival adventure, Keep Breathing, on Netflix brings out mixed reactions. It weaves too many ideas, some breathtakingly polished while others are visibly undeveloped, leaving the viewers split up over its quality. The 6-part limited series features Mellissa Barrera as Liv, ostensibly fleeing from personal issues to Inuvik. While it has its strengths, it draws criticism for casting Barrera in rather basic ways. It’s not the first time Netflix has been on the receiving end for being too simplistic and shallow in some of its production. Barrera has achieved significant milestones in the last decade, rising through reality TV ranks to a Hollywood-level actress. Her many roles in In the Heights, Vida, scream, and Carmen proves she has a thick skin for complex work. The last thing we would want is dulling her already glowing flame, raising the question, is Netflix’s Keep Breathing consistent with her mojo, or does it fail her?
The first episode, Arrivals, ignites lots of suspense that becomes squeezed out of the show quickly once it overlaps flashbacks about her life, pre-empting her reasons for fleeing and her conflicting past. Shifting the focus from the wilderness adventure to these montages sucks the thrill out of the show by keeping Liv in stagnating scenes for the better part of the series. Anyone would expect a stranded person, alone in the jungle, to do anything within their means to rescue themselves. That is not the case with Liv, who buys her time and only makes an attempt by the third day. Although the backstories introduce us to sympathizing events that build on the concept of keeping breathing in Liv’s life, they also juxtapose her survival instinct to her pregnancy, minimizing other reasons why people strive to stay alive in challenging situations. Barrera’s stardom has moved her beyond such minimizations. Netflix would have done her more justice by emphasizing her personality’s complexity, showing she has more to live for and a desire to thrive as a career woman.
Although Barrera has stated she is set on breaking stereotypes, the show gives her no chance to address this issue as it quickly glosses over many scenes that could have assisted her in achieving this objective. One of these is that it would have been interesting to see the no-nonsense lawyer cutting through persistent Latina labels in New York. Instead, Keep Breathing dwells on other simplistic aspects of her life, painting an image of a regretful personality rather than the strong one it purports to portray. Even if shows are all about entertainment, they also go beyond this norm by dispelling certain typecasts or narratives. It does not seem like Keep Breathing is meant to leave an impact on its viewer with its hasty progression of events while overlooking and wasting opportunities that could send life-changing learnings in society. If you’re a believer in making a difference, you’ll agree that undercooking such vital ideas in the miniseries leave much to be desired.
Netflix wants to awe us with Liv’s wittiness and tenacity as she struggles to survive the jungle. Amid all these efforts, does the show stretch her resolve far enough? Wasn’t it too easy? For a survival thriller, the jungle should bring its hidden horrors to test Liv’s ingenuity and ability to overcome near-impossible hurdles. Unfortunately, there is little to scare her other than a seemingly friendly bear she managed to scare with frail shouts, while the weather was also too accommodating to mount worthwhile challenges. It would have been interesting to see the show testing her limits to breaking points. What’s more, as a dancer and a swimmer, perhaps, the diving scenes to retrieve her bags from the sunken plane would have been more intense and realistic. Instead, we see Liv out of breath so fast and panting, nearly in despair.
Some scenes were inane and disappointing for a cast of Barrera’s stature. For a sharp-witted lawyer, it’d have come out naturally that studying the sun’s rising and setting would give her a more realistic idea of her location. However, Keep Breathing goes for the more exaggerated option of making a compass, which eventually does not work. Rather than building her to overcome the wilderness challenges, it brutalizes her, letting her survive only by chance, swept uncontrollably downstream a river.
It feels like Keep Breathing meant to bring much more action to its viewers but fell short of this objective by weaving too many ideas in a 6-part show. In as much as it is a watch, it could’ve done better for Mellissa Barrera if not for the audience.
Tell us what's wrong with this post? How could we improve it? :)
Let us improve this post!