This review of demonic resident it has mild spoilers, mainly about the lesbian character. Proceed with caution.
Netflix’s new adaptation of demonic resident It made me wonder once again: has queer representation evolved to the point where we can have villainous lesbians without lesbianism being villainized? Personally, I think the answer is yes, when done correctly, although it’s a fine line to walk. The criteria that I usually use in my own personal visualization are: a) is their lesbianism being used against them or is it imposed on them in some way? b) Are they using their lesbianism to do their bad deeds, for example, seducing someone’s wife, etc.? c) the main actions or plot points would be different if this character were straight. And if the answer to all these questions is ‘no’, it’s generally safe to assume that the lesbian villain is just a villain who happens to be a lesbian. And I think demonic resident does a good job of walking that line.
Very specifically, I think demonic resident does a good job of exposing Evelyn Marcus as the sociopathic CEO that she is, while allowing the fact that she is a lesbian to be just that: a fact. One fact in a long list of adjectives that define her, and not one that specifically informs her decisions throughout this show, for better or worse. I can’t say that Evelyn is a… nuanced character, but she’s fine because none of the characters are. This is very much a video game turned series, and we’re here for the existential questions of “at what point could someone have stepped in and prevented the zombie apocalypse?” or “Would you shoot your child if they were bitten?” a zombie” and other interesting plot twists. We are here to stumble upon hordes of zombies and terrifying giant spider monsters and huge mutated alligators. We’re here for sexy women smeared with dirt and blood kicking ass and taking names. We are not here for nuances.
Now this is where I confess I’m not familiar with the demonic resident Canyon. I have never played the video game (although I have heard there is a giant hot vampire lady that the the internet wanted to step on them, so maybe I will one day) nor did I watch the animated series or any of the seven (7) movies. But I love post-apocalyptic stories and I can fuck with a zombie story. So I went into this with little to no expectations; I’m sure some of the things in Raccoon City/Umbrella were familiar to those who have played the game, but it was all new to me. In fact, I found the lore interesting; A company whose scientist set out to cure depression and other mental illnesses with a pill called Joy that spirals out of control because of capitalism? Honestly, the general trajectory of the story doesn’t feel too far removed from another show I just started (belatedly), Stunned. And that’s not science fiction.
Capitalism is where our lesbian CEO comes in. Evelyn Marcus is the CEO of Umbrella, and she doesn’t mind that the pesky T-virus turns the animals in her testing lab into brain-hungry undead monsters. All she cares about is making money. She inherited a failing company from her father and she is determined to lead the company to greatness, no matter the cost.
Evelyn Marcus is many things: smart, cold, elegant with an amazing hairstyle, but she is also a wife and a mother. His wife, Diana, is a nervous woman who adores Evelyn when she gets the chance.
But I wish I had seen more of them together. Because other than a scene of them doing goat yoga together (which was admittedly cute, seeing Evelyn step out of her comfort zone and risk looking ridiculous to do something with her wife), there wasn’t much information about their relationship until all it came to light. she went sideways at the end of the season. And even then Evelyn claimed that she did what she did out of love for his wife and her family, but I only know because she said it out loud. She wouldn’t have gotten it just by looking.
The show bounces back and forth between 2022 and 2036, and at first Evelyn’s future fate made me feel a bit sad, but then some of her actions in 2022 are revealed and I don’t feel particularly bad for her anymore. She’s a villain, almost cartoonish due to the broad strokes that all the characters in this series are painted with, but gosh, I enjoyed watching her take down men without breaking her high-heeled stride. Paola Núñez wasn’t given much to work with on paper, but she made a meal out of every bite.
In general, my opinion about the program was: I had a good time. Was it the most insightful or thoughtful show I’ve seen before? No. But did you expect it to be? Also not! I enjoyed watching Ella Balinska as Adult Jade run through the dirty streets of a zombie-infested world, even if she was inexplicably made to have an American accent. I enjoyed watching Young Jade and Billie unravel the mystery of the company her father works for and realize that her entire life has been riddled with lies. And I enjoyed seeing what monstrosities new to me might be lurking around any corner. There were even times when I really realized that it was inspired by a video game and I could imagine what a reproduction of the scene would be like, and I enjoyed that too.
I have some minor complaints with the program; as I told my friend when I finished, “I have notes”. It’s a phrase I use when I think the show has the ingredients for success, but I didn’t bake it long enough, forgot to mix it properly, or didn’t use ENOUGH of an ingredient. I could have used a little more sister stuff in 2022, a little more about how Billie felt about everything that was going on, a few more blanks about what happened between 2022 and 2036. And frankly, if the powers that be factual on this show Weren’t they promised a second season of this show in contract form before they ended the season the way they did? I would be furious. Perhaps they were banking on the popularity of the video game, and I’ll hold back on my rantings until Netflix announces its fate. But if this is where the series ended, it would be a bummer. I like that my apocalypse content ends with a shred of hope among the ruins, and it’s definitely not hopeful like I felt when the end credits of the final episode rolled. It felt like a messy but promising beginning to a story… not at the end of one.
So overall, I wish there was more character development across the board? Yes. Do I wish I had more answers than the eight episodes of the show left me? Of course. But I came into this show looking for some nights of terrifying escapism, and terrifying escapism is what I got. The lesbian ice queen was just a frozen icing on top.
Maybe the real Resident Evil is the lesbian CEOs we met along the way.