On Feb. 3, “Dear Edward” was released on Apple TV+, the first of a presumably upcoming onslaught of new shows. After all, viewers have been sensing something big since the streaming service’s new advertising campaign with Timothée Chalamet.
Developed by Jason Katims, “Dear Edward,” is an adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s novel of the same name. The story follows Edward, a young boy who is the sole survivor of a devastating plane crash, as he is forced to move in with his aunt Lacey, who deals with battles of her own. The series also zooms in on characters that lost loved ones on the plane, showing them inside their support group and out.
Only certain characters stand out, however. There’s Edward, of course, along with his aunt. Edward is played by Colin O’Brien, who will be starring as a young Willy Wonka in the 2023 reboot, and Lacey is played by Taylor Schilling, who is best known for her role in “Orange is the New Black.”
Following the crash, Edward imagines that his brother is still alive, still reeling from his sudden change in lifestyle and the attacks of an enamored press. O’Brien’s performance is phenomenally authentic and his character has a refreshing aptitude, despite his age.
Another standout character is Dee Dee, a socialite mother coping with the loss and betrayal of her husband, played by Connie Britton. The role is not unlike Britton’s character Nicole from season one of “White Lotus.” Dee Dee’s chaotic dynamic with her daughter and utter disregard for others should theoretically make her unlikeable; yet, you can’t help but want more.
Others’ grieving relatives were given enough screen time, but the stories of some (like expecting mother Linda) were left completely undeveloped.
“Dear Edward” is reminiscent of “Manifest,” simply due to the nature of capturing loss from a plane crash, but it takes a far more serious approach. Humor is almost completely eradicated in the series; the only things that may warrant a laugh are Uncle Kojo’s porta-potty business in Ghana and Lacey’s inability to stomach a feast of burgers and corn dogs when Edward’s rapid weight loss becomes a concern.
The show’s theme song, “Hold On” by Lizzy McAlpine, is also on the dispiriting side. While the song isn’t awful by any means, I kept having the urge to skip over it. It may fit the grief-driven plot of “Dear Edward,” but I would have preferred a more hopeful tune.
Overall, “Dear Edward” is a great adaptation of Napolitano’s novel with strong acting. But the narrative sometimes felt overly emotional, potentially making it unsuitable for viewers who prefer a more lighthearted and entertaining watch. Perhaps Apple TV+ will find more success next time around.