Shining Girls — Episode 1, Cutline Review

Everything Is Like Always, And Then It’s Not

By Mark

Recently we have had a string of new series from a variety of sources. Usually, these series start strong, really strong, the first episode tending to grab you and not want to let go. Subsequent episodes haven’t always managed to live up to that.

This is not the case with Shining Girls, the latest series from AppleTV+, which stars Elisabeth Moss (“ The Invisible Man”, “ The Square “), who also produces and directs an episode, as Kirby Mazrachi.

We kick things off in 1964, a young girl is sat on the steps outside her house when Harper, Jamie Bell (“ 6 Days”, “ Rocketman “), appears. He sits down with her, things get very uncomfortable, he pulls the wings off a bee, hands her a wooden horse and is on his way. He appears to know what she’ll do, before she’s even done it.

Skip forward to 1992 and we’re with Kirby, living with her mom, Amy Brenneman (“Sweet Girl”, “Goliath (TV)”), in apartment 2b in Chicago. Her mom is a former singer in a rock band, now she’s attempting to talk Kirby from moving away to Orlando.

Kirby works in the mailroom of the Chicago Sun Times newspaper. She goes to lunch but on her return someone is sat at her desk. He seems surprised when she questions why he’s at her desk, he says he’s always been there and points to hers which is exactly how she left it before she went for lunch, just in a different place.

Kirby is called to the police station where she learns they’ve found a body, a woman, Julia Madrigal, Karen Rodriguez (“The Big Leap (TV)”, “Chicago Fire (TV)”), and things look similar to her attack some years ago. The police won’t tell her details, only that she’s been cut-up the same way Kirby was. They show her photos but she doesn’t know what her attacker looked like, only what he sounds like.

When Kirby gets home, where previously she had a pet cat, that’s now a pet dog. Things like this happen a lot for Kirby so she keeps a notebook under her mattress as things change.

Meanwhile at an observatory Jin-Sook, Phillipa Soo (“ Dopesick (TV) “, “The Bite (TV)”), meets Harper. He cryptically suggests she should know him, but she doesn’t.

Meanwhile Kirby begins to get involved in the reporting of the Madrigal case with the main reporter Dan Velazquez, Wagner Moura (“Narcos (TV)”, “Sergio”). She tells him about her attack, the similarities and Dan takes her to the morgue so they can see if her scars are the same as the ones on Julia.

The doctor, Iris, starts questioning her, eventually putting her on a table to look at her scars herself, except that, mid-way through the examination, Iris becomes Howard, Marc Grapey (“Chicago Med (TV)”, “Friend Request”), and Kirby freaks out.

When Kirby tries to go home things have shifted dramatically, she no longer lives at 2b with her mom, she now lives at 3b with her husband Marcus, Chris Chalk (“Perry Mason (TV)”, “ Godzilla vs. Kong “), the photographer from the newspaper.

It’s a disorientating start to a series, though I guess that’s kinda the point, it’s what Kirby is going through after all. However, it does make for slow going and nothing is spelled out for you, you need to figure this out as much as Kirby does.

Some may find the opening episode slow and may, therefore, write off the whole series. I would say hold on, I’ve seen two at this stage and things do get more intriguing.

Originally published at



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