Love & Death | Official Trailer | HBO Max

But such a lull in its early episodes almost dulls the impact of the story once Candy’s suburban escapades become the center of a media storm of a courtroom drama. Were it not for Olsen’s perfectly calibrated performance, this latest true crime fictionalization would struggle to validate its own existence. As if intent on reminding us that she’s a talent who’s been mostly stuck playing in the Marvel sandbox for the better part of the last decade, Olsen is transcendent once Candy’s competing and often contradictory impulses become central to her fractured sense of self. Is she a devoted wife or a potential murderer? An adulterer or a possible sociopath? A serial liar or a wounded woman?


In Olsen’s hands, Candy remains a believable cipher of a figure. The actor avoids collapsing the character into any one trope; instead, she embraces Candy’s multitudes. (You will crave plenty more scenes where she sings along to “Take A Chance On Me,” dances to disco hits, and even finds herself lost and adrift while grinding meat in the middle of her kitchen.) Going broad with that honeyed Texan accent when needed and subtle when all we require are minimal gestures to suggest inner turmoil, Olsen offers a powder keg of a performance that culminates in a climactic scene toward the end of the series where Betty’s fate is eventually put to screen.

If Love & Death cannot quite meet Olsen at her level (this is the kind of series that could’ve done with fewer montages no matter how many great needle drops it gifts us in the process), that may well be due to its generic constraints. This is a show being billed, per its poster tagline, as a domestic drama (“Not every dream has a perfect ending”), yet one which cannot escape the lurid sensationalism it has and does build toward.


Love & Death premieres April 27 on HBO Max.