Everyone loves a good weekend binge, and for the last five weeks strong, USA’s Eyewitness has been serving up small-town murders, FBI cover-ups, and the lone female sheriff who won’t rest until her small upstate New York town is back to normal. Plus, it’s all wrapped together with a drama-filled love triangle, so what more could you ask for? Below, we break down the reasons why Shades of Blue showrunner Adi Hasak’s latest series is worth an afternoon binge.
1. It starts with a bang.
First off: Eyewitness has one hell of a premise. Based in the small rural town of Tivoli, New York, the series pits its two closeted protagonists, Philip and Lukas, up against a serial killer on the loose after they incidentally witness him shoot three men dead when a drug deal goes bad in Lukas’ family cabin. While they manage to flee the scene safely after knocking the killer out with a frying pan, they can’t tell the police (led by Philip’s foster mother, Sheriff Helen Torrance) that they were in the cabin because they were hooking up. If word of their relationship got out in their high school, the repercussions would run deep, including Lukas’ relationship with his girlfriend, Rose, and his relationship with his Motocross sponsors, which would be put at risk. But the killer, named Ryan Kane, saw Philip hiding under the bed before Lukas knocked him out, so now he’s out for teenage blood.
2. It defies traditional crime drama tropes.
One of the most interesting things about Eyewitness is the fact that it’s unafraid to take narrative risks, and the most obvious way that’s seen is through its main murder mystery. (Though it should be said that it’s only a “mystery” to those onscreen.) From the very onset, the audience knows who the killer is while the lead investigators are left in the dark. It makes for some incredible suspense and shouting at the screen, “He’s right under your nose, Helen!”
3. #Philkas is here to stay.
Their relationship may be caught in a pretty awful situation -- not many first loves are built on the back of a murder case -- but Philip and Lukas are Eyewitness’ beating heart. Watching Philip learning to adapt to a small town after moving from Queens, New York to live with his foster parents while Lukas slowly warms to the idea of falling in love with the new boy next door is as entertaining as it is impactful.
4. You’d join hoards of other eager viewers.
The masterminds who shipped for #Philkas are regular viewers just like you, and they love Eyewitness! Each Sunday, thousands tune in and live tweet the episode alongside stars Tyler Young, James Paxton, Matt Murray, and others for real-time reactions, professions of love for their central couple, and to connect with other fans around the world.
5. Julianne Nicholson gets the role she deserves.
A longtime standout supporting actor in acclaimed series like Masters of Sex and films like August: Osage County and Black Mass, Nicholson is finally given the kind of leading lady material she deserves with the compelling Sheriff Torrance. Watching her navigate the trials of being a new mom to the troubled Philip while trying to crack the code to her peaceful town’s string of murders is a balancing act of internalizing her struggle of god cop-bad cop. Nicholson hits every mark.
6. Plus there’s a cast of lovable supporting characters...
Eyewitness is primarily Helen, Philip, and Lukas’s show, but it’s truly an ensemble effort with excellent, heartfelt performances from Gil Bellows as Helen’s veterinarian husband, Gabe; Tattiawna Jones as the FBI agent tracking drug trafficking in the area, Kamilah Davis; Matt Murray as Helen’s affable deputy sheriff, Tony; and especially Amanda Brugel as Kamilah’s sister who gets caught up in the local crime family, Sita.
7. ...And not-so-loveable characters too.
We won't spoil it, but Warren Christie as Ryan Kane and Alex Karzis as Mithat Milonkovic are good baddies!
8. Eyewitness comes from the minds of great filmmakers.
We mentioned before that showrunner Adi Hasak is also behind NBC’s Jennifer Lopez-starring Shades of Blue, but another behind-the-camera talent worth tuning in for is director Catherine Hardwicke. She’s best known for Twilight, Lords of Dogtown, and last year’s Oscar-nominated short film Til It Happens to You, and she brings the same kind of skill and sincerity in drawing relationships through drama to Eyewitness' first two episodes.
9. Eyewitness is unafraid to tackle hard issues.
In the first five episodes alone, this USA crime thriller dishes out drama pertaining to the nation’s child foster system, police corruption, pedophilia, LGBTQ harassment, and the intersectionality of race, poverty, and gang violence. Though it’s first and foremost an hour of twisty and engrossing entertainment, it still doesn’t shy away from showcasing real-world issues facing small-town America today.
10. It keeps you guessing until the end.
Just because you start off knowing who the killer is doesn’t mean you know where this series is headed. One hour after the next is bookended with a shocking cliffhanger and countless twists and turns. It’s simply a knockout.