Just Another Toxic Love Story: My Final Thoughts on Apple TV’s ‘Surface’
So, this weekend, Apple TV+ posted the final episode of Season 1 of the series “Surface,” and I was surprised by the conclusion. When I first wrote about “Surface,” I interpreted it as a Black horror narrative, but now that I have finished this first leg of the series, I would describe it as a mixture of “Gone Girl” and “Get Out.” And maybe it’s just me, but I feel like television series are overusing this trope of having deranged characters for no discernable reason.
Especially as someone who loves a family trauma drama and any deep dives into the character development and background of an ensemble cast, it annoys me when we have a character that acts in a way that indicates a mysterious issue or a problem from their past. Yet, the audience doesn’t get to explore that problem because the character’s toxic behavior is a plot point or a means of developing or setting up a specific narrative. In the case of “Surface,” the protagonist Sophie’s loss of memory is first presented as a problem because she cannot fully comprehend the motives of those around her. But in the end, her loss of memory acts as a way to protect her from socially unacceptable personality traits, behaviors, and even sexual identity.
And not to give too many spoilers at the beginning, but this narrative in which her husband supports Sophie’s memory loss and mental health issues means the audience is encouraged to view their relationship as deep and unconditional love. The fact that Sophie’s husband stands by her, even after all the wrongs she has committed against him, is portrayed as true care and consideration for the marriage vows. James is by her side in sickness and in health, even through affairs and white-collar crime.
However, I was left to wonder, how much is too much in a marriage? And why do we see so many of this tragic tropes, especially concerning queer-coded characters?