Lizzie Borden: Netflix

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted a blog! A lot has changed: a successful defense (yay, I’m a Doctor), moving across country (only to move back in 2 months), and changing career paths. No stress, right?! So, obviously, I needed something to keep me a bit sane during this rather insane time. Cue Netflix! I just completed the 8 episodes of the Lizzie Borden Chronicles, a recently added series to the Netflix family.

You may remember the famous rhyme that children play while skipping rope:

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

In 2014, Lifetime aired a film about Lizzie, her life prior to the murders then during/after her trial. She was accused of murdering her father and stepmother. The film left off at the very end of the trial when she was found not guilty. The Chronicles, alternatively, begins when she was released from jail and began her life after the trial. It is all fictionalized and portrays Lizzie as a murderess who seeks revenge over anyone who gets between her, her happiness, and her sister’s happiness.

Overall the 8 episodes are rather well done, considering that the series has been panned by many critics. The costume pieces are exquisite and the sets are almost as comparable to the time era of the Bordens’ life era. You have to consider, however, that this series is a fictional representation of the Bordens, who they were as people, and the individuals that they interacted with. Lizzie is assumed to be a heartless woman, only interested in protecting her own interests. Moreover, she was a wise woman who plotted against her enemies, usually taking most enemies out at once (framing one for another’s murder).

For how much this show had amazing costumes and sets, it had an excessive amount of blood. Lizzie would slit wrists, necks, and sever heads from bodies (at least 2 an episode). It’s pretty gruesome, so this show is definitely for the faint of heart. But, I wonder if this is even close to Lizzie’s personality. From my readings on the internet, it seems highly likely that she killed her family. But the degree of complexity that this series gives to Lizzie in plotting against people who are blackmailing her, is almost inconceivable. Women during the Borden era were not that smart, on the aggregate; additionally, they weren’t use to getting their hands dirty.  In this alone, I feel like the series is a bit preposterous, and I can see why others didn’t really like it. But, if you take it at face value, the series keeps you on the edge of your seat, “What is that crazy woman going to do now?”

I wish Lizzie had a journal. We would at least get to understand what kind of things she thought about. Was she a wise and cunning woman, always planning her next success? Was she obsessed with her sister (the series painted a very vivid picture of her obsession with Emma, her sister, and women)? We won’t ever really know, unfortunately. Borden was found not guilty and lived her life out after the trial, constantly being plagues of the murder of her parents, which I do pity her for. If she had a percentage of the craziness that the series paints her to have, though, I have less pity for her. Regardless, watch it if you’re not squeamish. If you are, be prepared to close your eyes about every 10 minutes. Lots of blood, lots of death. My kind of series.

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