'Apples Never Fall' review: Can this Liane Moriarty show top 'Big Little Lies?' (2024)

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Starring Annette Bening, Sam Neill, Alison Brie, and Jake Lacy.

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'Apples Never Fall' review: Can this Liane Moriarty show top 'Big Little Lies?' (1)

Annette Bening in "Apples Never Fall."Credit: Jasin Boland/PEAco*ck

Apples Never Fall opens with a bunch of fallen apples. Overly literal and more funny than it is suspenseful, the image does not bode well for Peaco*ck's latest miniseries, which is based on Liane Moriarty novel of the same name. Sure HBO saw success with their adaptation of Moriarty's Big Little Lies, but Apples Never Fall doesn't have the same bite.

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The apples belong to Joy Delaney (Annette Bening), a retired tennis coach out running errands for the day. One of those errands involves buying (and staring at for several beats too long) some luscious apples. Not long after, those apples are strewn along the road next to Joy's bloody bike — and she is nowhere to be found.

In the days that follow, Joy's husband Stan (Sam Neill) and their four adult children scramble to figure out what happened to her, only to uncover some brutal family secrets of their own. Among them? How much the kids take after their dysfunctional parents. (How do you like them metaphorical apples never falling far from metaphorical trees?) Yet the central mystery's twists are neither satisfying nor particularly interesting. The same goes for the Delaney family as a whole, making for a miniseries that feels more unripe than anything else.

Apples Never Fall introduces to the on-edge Delaney family.

'Apples Never Fall' review: Can this Liane Moriarty show top 'Big Little Lies?' (2)

Essie Randles, Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, and Conor Merrigan-Turner in "Apples Never Fall."Credit: Vince Valitutti/PEAco*ck

Unlike Big Little Lies, Apples Never Fall never really clicks as a family drama, instead resting on tired archetypes.

These clichés are especially true when it comes to the Delaney children. There's Troy (Jake Lacy), the richest, oldest supposed heir with a constant grudge against his dad; Amy (Alison Brie), a troubled free spirit; Logan (Conor Merrigan Turner), a total suck-up to Stan; and Brooke (Essie Randles), the mature baby of the family, who owns a struggling physical therapy practice. Every family scene before Joy's disappearance is rife with tension. The kids air out their siblings' failures, while the ultra-competitive Stan seems to take pleasure in pitting them against one another.

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Nowhere is this clearer than on the tennis court. Given Stan and Joy's coaching background, tennis has always been the way the family connects. Unfortunately, the connection is more competitive than supportive. The kids literally play to win their father's love and approval. Meanwhile, they leave Joy stuck on the sidelines, taken for granted in everything she does.

The initial portrait of this messed-up family exposes deep-seated resentments and old wounds. It's when Apples Never Fall brings in its central mystery that things really fly off the handle.

Apples Never Fall's mystery is more silly than suspenseful.

'Apples Never Fall' review: Can this Liane Moriarty show top 'Big Little Lies?' (3)

Sam Neill in "Apples Never Fall."Credit: Vince Valitutti/PEAco*ck

Joy's disappearance sets Apples Never Fall's present-day timeline in motion. The biggest question for the Delaney children is whether Stan was involved. He's been acting shady, to say the least. Plus, the massive scratch down the side of his face suggests more violence between him and Joy than he's willing to admit.

But there's another possible ill-doer in the mix: Savannah (Georgia Flood), a young woman Stan and Joy took in when she showed up bleeding at their doorstep. For the Delaney kids, Savannah gradually overstays her welcome, worming her way into becoming a kind of surrogate daughter to their parents. But is she really who she says she is? Or is there something deeper and more malicious at play here?

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Apples Never Fall would like to keep you guessing, but Savannah is set up as a villain with motives so easy to suss out that's she's basically boring. The same goes for the rest of the show's treatment of Joy's disappearance. The red herrings — of which there are many — are practically crimson, with Apples Never Fall dragging each dead end out an embarrassing amount. Worst of all are its attempts to create suspense, including an overused dramatic inhaling sound effect that plays whenever the show toggles between the past and the present. (Or "then" and "now," as the show labels its timelines.) It's the kind of sound you'd expect to hear in a second-rate true crime podcast, not a miniseries starring Bening and Neill.

When the mystery finally reveals its grand twists after all that sound and fury, they're more groan-worthy than gasp-worthy. The same goes for Apples Never Fall as a whole.

Apples Never Fall hits Peaco*ck March 14.

TopicsStreamingPeaco*ck

Belen Edwards is an Entertainment Reporter at Mashable. She covers movies and TV with a focus on fantasy and science fiction, adaptations, animation, and more nerdy goodness.

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