#Series Review: Netflix’s The Alienist

New series on Netflix is a combination of Sherlock Holmes (there are two partners working on the case), and Poirot (the whole Police force is irritated by the duo who works on cases). The only difference is that the main person investigating the cases is not a detective, like Sherlock and Poirot, but a premodern version of a psychiatrist. In other words, he is the alienist who investigates the mind of people considered to be alienated from themselves.

The series is not just another detective story, albeit there is plenty of that too. It is also a story portraying the social situation in the US, in 1880s when women started to work in more prominent roles, other than cleaning. Thus, it is a story of sexism and challenges first women who started the work faced. I suppose we do not celebrate them enough, and it is indeed a failure of academia for not documenting all women and their personal stories, in those early years of much delayed emancipation.

On the other hand, the series offers a story of corruption in the Police, and the interplay between Police, the wealthy and influential, and the brothel owners who are bribing the Police to protect them and their clients. Nevertheless, this is also a story of prostitution and paedophilia, for in this story victims are young boys who prostitute themselves for living, while the clients are rich men who like to abuse them both sexually and physically. The prejudices towards these boys and lack of compassion when one is murdered among Police officers are appalling and sadly very believable. I am certain that even today there would be members of the Police (in any country) who would not care for what happens to prostitutes of any gender or age, and never mind the 19th century.

Finally, there is a series of excellent questions and some interesting psychological analyses offered by doctor Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl). Indeed, what compels a man to do evil?

In sum, this is a good series that has plenty to offer to the viewer. I finished three episodes in one go, and took a break to write this blog, and then I am back. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as Dr Kreizler, not just because of his good acting but also because of remarkable transformation. I watched him in The Cloverfield Paradox where he was remarkable as Schmidt and I did not recognise him at all in this series, until I saw on IMDB that he is the lead actor. Excellent indeed!

Thank you for reading.

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