The Horror of Dolores Roach 2023 / An intriguing, if half-baked, dark comedy about one woman’s spiral into madness


The first thing we learn about Dolores Roach is that she is a person of sensation and scandal, a masseuse who, as the newspaper clippings reveal, turned out to be a murderous cannibal serving human flesh to unwitting customers at a local eatery, a la Sweeney Todd. But the series is less about the horrors of the act and more about the woman behind the front. “I was never the blood-hungry sociopath people say I am,” Dolores claims early in the first episode. “I was just some chick in Washington Heights.” In an attempt to humanize Dolores, we’re made privy to the unforgiving circumstances surrounding her case, namely: the desperation of poverty, the relentlessness of discrimination, the brokenness of the criminal justice system, and the inevitability of gentrification, all of which play a crucial role in Dolores’ eventual descent into misdeed and madness. It’s an interesting idea, fleshing out her darkness in a comic tone and pitting it against systemic social problems, but sadly the show never pulls off the balance it needs to become an effective dark comedy. Maybe something was lost when it was adapted from a one-woman play to TV series, but it never really shakes off that amateur approach to telling its delicate story. The heavy-handed narration and the occasional gimmicks overshadow the horrific deaths that occur, and they don’t leave enough space for the story’s relevant themes to aerate and make a significant impact. It’s also not nearly as scandalous nor as sexy as it thinks it is, lacking passion both in its love and murder scenes. They come off scrubbed and squeaky, blunting what could have been, at the very least, a sharp murder thriller. 

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