Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
I always enjoy watching French series partly because they’re in my native tongue, but also because I find that the acting is often pretty good and showcased well on Netflix. More recently I had the chance to check out both Marianne and Mortel, so when Netflix released Mythomaniac, I was very intrigued to see how this matched up. While the show is a little slow at times and has some questionable twists in the last few episodes, Mythomaniac is a decent drama nonetheless, with an original concept and many interesting characters at its core.
The story revolves around Elvira, a mother of three who’s struggling to get the attention and appreciation of her family. Fed up with being treated like a maid by her children and suspecting her husband of cheating, she fabricates a terrible lie that she’s suffering from breast cancer. As she sees her life dramatically change for the better, the intricate web of lies around her and her family slowly unravels and brings with it a litany of new challenges as the episodes tick by, eventually leading to an unusual cliffhanger at the end.
Mythomaniac does take a while to get going but it’s really the idea behind the different lies and secrets the family hold that makes the series worth sticking with. The show’s premise reminds me a little of Desperate Housewives, especially as we see the different strange neighbours who inhabit the suburban street. Elvira’s lies about her health are exaggerated while this is, of course, immoral, the series does an excellent job with her characterization, allowing you to feel quite empathetic towards her despite her fabricated subterfuge.
This is a show all about lies and as we delve deeper into the family’s make up, we see that each of them holds their own set of secrets. In a world where people are so unhappy with their lives and unwilling to do something positive to change it, some will do anything they can to get what they want, personified perfectly through the Lambert family. While they don’t mean to hurt each other, this is what inadvertently ends up happening and these deceptions feel like important life lessons, shown without ever feeling preachy or contrived..
The famous quote from Martin Luther is quite fitting here: “A lie is like a snowball, the further you roll it, the bigger it becomes”. Elvira goes to great lengths with her scam and ultimately has to face the grave consequences of her actions at the end. There also are a couple of new plot points added towards the end of the show too and while I understand that we will probably find out more about them in a second season, the lack of development on this front is a little disappointing.
Having said that, the acting from the main cast is the strongest point of the series, as each of them have quite a difficult role to perform. In particular, Jeremy Gillet gives a really touching depiction of a transsexual teen, struggling to adapt to his life in an already dysfunctional family. I was really moved by his performance and I am looking forward to seeing him in other productions going forward.
The series also boasts some nicely edited shots throughout too. One in particular worth noting occurs in the last episode where we see Elvira walking home while we see the rest of the neighbourhood moving backwards; a clever montage early on when we cut to each character using part of the song “Stand by me” is another stand-out moment.
Mythomaniac is quite the controversial series; it is a bit of a slow burn and while some of the plot points are a little questionably handled, the drama has enough high points to keep you sticking with it, thanks in part to the original premise and interesting characters. It may not be the strongest French series I have watched but for anyone who enjoys dramas surrounding dysfunctional families full of secrets, Mythomaniac is well worth a watch.
Verdict - 6.5/10