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Erotic thrillers are tough to do, mainly because the thriller aspect of the story interrupts the flow of the erotic part of the story. The two need to be tied together, like in Basic Instinct and movies of that nature, for both aspects to mesh together well. Oh, and the sex actually has to look sexy. A new Netflix original series from Brazil attempts that balance. Can it remain sexy while trying to solve its central mystery?

LADY VOYEUR: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: “DECEMBER 31.” A woman stands on her balcony with a drink and starts talking into her phone.

The Gist: Miranda (Débora Nascimento) does these voice memos all the time; it’s a way for her to archive moments of her life so that she can recall them if Huntington’s Disease, which is robbing her grandmother of her memory, starts affecting her. She’s lamenting that she fell in love with two men, one of them is now dead. and it’s her fault. Then someone sneaks into her apartment, comes up behind her, and starts to strangle her.

Flash back three months, to October 1. Miranda is in her apartment with her computer equipment and a camera with a zoom lens. She’s a hacker by trade, helping companies secure their vulnerabilities, and she’s also a bit of a loner. She’s taken to watching Cléo (Emanuelle Araújo), a sex worker who lives in the building across the way, interact with her clients. A new one seems to be stiff and largely uninterested in doing much of anything with Cléo. But on Fridays… well, on Fridays a sexy client comes in, he and Cléo have mind-blowing sex, and Miranda gets off watching it all unfold.

Miranda and Cléo know each other casually, so Cléo asks Miranda to come over to her place to watch her dog while she’s at a ritzy hotel overnight, entertaining the millionaire client whom Miranda doesn’t like. Miranda loves this opportunity to go vicariously live Cléo’s life; she puts on Cléo’s dress, her makeup and one of her wigs.

But then there’s a knock on the door: The sexy client, Fernando (Nikolas Antunes), is there, even though it’s not Friday. He finds himself immediately attracted to Miranda, and she doesn’t object to the attention, and they have some of the best sex of Miranda’s life. After he leaves, though, another one of Cléo’s clients shows up and forces himself on Miranda, over her objections. Having forgotten his wallet, Fernando comes back to the apartment right as Miranda pushes the other client to the floor in the bathroom, inadvertently killing him after he hits his head.

In the meantime, Cléo is about to have sex with her high priced client, Heitor (Ângelo Rodrigues), when his wife Diana (Gabriela Moreya) bursts in; it’s the final straw for them as a couple, but she promises him that she’ll gain custody of their daughter Luisa (Duda Pimenta).

The next day, after Fernando gets rid of the body from Cléo’s apartment, with the help of Miranda, who goes into the building’s security system and erases video proof that any of them were there, he asks her to help him expose a sex trafficking operation run by his wealthy businessman brother-in-law, who just happens to be Heitor.

Lady Voyeur
Photo: Aline Arruda/NETFLIX

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Lady Voyeur (Original title: Olhar Indiscreto), feels like pieces of a few other shows and movies, like Sex/Life, Body Heat, Fifty Shades Of Grey and Sex, Lies and Videotape.

Our Take: It is so very hard for screenwriters and directors to combine balance the “erotic” and the “thriller” parts of the erotic thriller genre. When we first started watching Lady Voyeur, we thought that writers Marcela Citterio and Camila Raffanti had a handle on the balance. The first twenty or so minutes of the episode had some of the sexiest scenes we’ve seen on screen in quite some time, even if some of the aspects of the story were eye-rolling. The sex scenes, including lots of closeups of clavicles and other pieces of skin, are slow builds that don’t just show actors going through the motions.

We’re not 100% sure why Miranda seems to be content with living vicariously through Cléo. There are some flashbacks that indicate that her mother’s death, which happened when she was a kid, had something to do with someone in her mother’s life that was up to no good; all we see is her older sister telling little Miranda that their mom’s death is her fault.

The fact that she’s a hacker seems somewhat irrelevant at the beginning, with the exception that she’s able to hack into Cléo’s security cameras. But Cléo also conveniently keeps her window shades open, so she’s a pretty open book. But Miranda’s abilities will come into play as the series goes on.

It’s when things take the hard left turn from “sexy hacker having sex” to “sexy hacker accidentally kills a guy and sexy new boyfriend asks her to help bust a sex trafficking ring” that the show loses us a bit. Have we transitioned from an erotic thriller to just a regular thriller? It seems inevitable that Miranda is going to fall for Heitor, too, but will that mean that we’ll see lots more closeups of clavicles? It’s hard to say. There is also a sense that Fernando’s off-day visit wasn’t a complete coincidence, so there’s a whole conspiracy aspect that needs to be worked through.

It just feels like the tone shifted so quickly and in such an absurd way that we started to doubt whether the show will ever be able to find the right balance going forward.

Sex and Skin: Yep, there’s lots of both in this show.

Parting Shot: We’re back to New Year’s Eve. As Miranda struggles with the man who’s strangling her, she starts to lose consciousness, and the person choking her tosses her over the balcony.

Sleeper Star: Ingrid Klug plays Miranda’s buddy Rita. She’s only in one scene, but her enthusiastic description of washing machine sex is pretty memorable.

Most Pilot-y Line: Here’s how we know Miranda is a hacker: She has two monitors, one of which has windows of scrolling code that mean little or nothing with regards to what she’s actually doing.

Our Call: STREAM IT. We hope the sexiness of the first episode of Lady Voyeur translates to the rest of the series. We’re not sure, though, if that will continue through the rest of the season.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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