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TV Review: Should You Head 'To The Lake' For A Netflix Binge?

To The Lake Kirill Käro Sergey Aleksandr Robak Leonid Maryana Spivak Irina Netflix Channel One

So, you are looking through Netflix and ready to stumble on another gem. “To The Lake” (“Epidemiya”) is the TV show you are looking for to binge in brisk succession. The series follows two complicated families as they band together to make it “to the lake,” an oasis from a horrific pandemic sweeping Moscow, Russia, and in all likelihood, the rest of the world.

Who are these families? In one of the families is Sergey, his ex-wife, son, girlfriend/former mistress, and her son. The other is Leonid, his pregnant wife, and his daughter from his first marriage. At least, I think he and his significant are married when the series starts. As you can tell from reading that description, “To The Lake” (like “Locust”) features quite the powder keg in human dynamism.

You have an (understandably) infuriated ex-wife in Sergey’s case and a troubled daughter struggling with her dad’s new young wife, in Leonid’s. Because of the human conflict and the ensuing drama, “To The Lake” effectively grabbed the attention of this Netflix viewer. One who was initially reticent to watch it after falsely believing it featured a zombie-type apocalypse.

There are no zombies. What “To The Lake” has instead is an extreme pandemic, and the similarities between the sweeping reality most of us are currently living in cannot help but be easily recognizable. Thankfully, COVID has not gotten to the state of the virus in the Russian series. Unfortunately, the distance between the dystopia portrayed is not as much of a distance as it once was, which is troubling.

For the most part, though, “To The Lake” reads like Steven Spielberg’s unfairly maligned “War of the Worlds” remake. It deals with the complicated decisions that surviving strips the grey area most of us can leave in. The TV show speaks to that and a lot more, including the woes of co-parenting with an unrepentant cheater and broken families finding a way to heal.

There is a lot here, and it is all diligently dished out. As he did in the AI drama “Better Than Us,” Kirill Käro once again portrays a self-centered ex-husband and father who gaslights those around him into believing they are the villains of his story. Sounds familiar. Words cannot express how annoying Sergey and his attitude are, and worsening matters is not just one, but two women want him. Why? 

It makes no sense, and “To The Lake” thrives despite him. Actor Eldar Kalimulin is another familiar face from “Better Than Us.” Unlike Kirill Käro, Kalimulin gets to play a much more likable character in “To The Lake.” In the latter, Kalimulin plays the autistic stepson of Käro’s Sergey. Kalimulin nails the role, and he is not alone. Aleksandr Robak (Leonid) joins others in the cast in fantastically anchoring it.

It is also worth noting for others who love their share of Russian dramas that “Ekaterina” actor Aleksandr Yatsenko (Emperor Peter III, Ekaterina’s husband) also has a part later in the show. Speaking of “To The Lake” is one of the best Russian language series I have binged in a while. The show sets its hook in the premiere and does not let up afterward. 

There are no filler episodes despite the way one develops, and while there is some irritation regarding certain relationships, it never frustrates to the point of unwatchability. To put “To The Lake” and this glowing review in context, I am not an “apocalypse” person. If you scroll through Eclectic Pop, you will be hard-pressed to find a lot of coverage surrounding dystopia-centric content.

It is just not my genre, although there have been exceptions. The topic of who a human has to become to survive is a tricky one that requires finesse and a balance between reality and unnecessary boldness. I hope that “To The Lake” continues for an (unconfirmed) second season. It sets itself up in a way that it could continue indefinitely. I would watch Season 2.

“To The Lake” (“Epidemiya”) is currently streaming on Netflix alongside a lot of other great TV content.

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