Trese: A Solid Supernatural Detective Show from the Philippines – Netflix Review

What if you were the chosen one but also just sick of all this bullsh*t?

If there is one massive positive that Netflix has had on media, it’s that they’ve given a lot of creative people from countries that don’t usually get international distribution a platform (also South Korea, which is starting to get a lot more distribution, thankfully). This show combines the mythology and social setting of the Philippines with the Anime-inspired look that Netflix has been going for with many of its original series. It’s nice to start exploring other mythologies rather than just importing them into a Western setting or trying to rehash European vampires for the 3000th time. 

Some of the visuals are pretty universal, though.

At a glance, the show has some elements of supernatural detective series like a blend of Constantine and Supernatural, with a touch of the Dresden Files books. Alexandra Trese (Shay Mitchell/Liza Soberano) is the last survivor of a line of “Trese,” which are people who guard the balance between the supernatural world and the human one. There are laws about what can and can’t be done to humans, but, naturally, a lot of the evil spirits would prefer to just ignore those and declare war. She’s got enough magical ability for it to be useful, but not enough that guns aren’t usually a quicker solution. Her assistants and bodyguards are the Kambal (Twins), Crispin and Basilio (Griffin Puatu/Simon de la Cruz). They both often wear creepy happy and sad face masks, which makes it even funnier that they’re the good guys. Trese is an official consultant for the police, as the existence of magic seems to be more of an “open secret” in the area. Her main contact is captain Guerrero (Matt Yang King/Apollo Abraham), who is smart enough to usually bring an RPG and a shotgun when dealing with the supernatural, as opposed to the usual police consultant who tries to play by the rules in shows like this.

Again, the twins are the good guys.

The characters are pretty well written and designed in this show, particularly Trese herself (the badass longcoat she wears is a blend of Eastern and Western styles and seems reasonably functional). The monsters are really well done, often being cartoonish when non-threatening and then disturbing when they decide to turn it on. An exception are the spiders with baby heads, which are creepy no matter what they’re doing. Between this and 30 Monedas I’m beginning to think that a lot of countries have latched onto “baby with a spider body” as the go-to creepiest thing out there and I’m not sure they’re wrong. 

Also more “splitting people vertically.”

The mythology the show explores is interesting, particularly when you start to get a feel for how the Philippines treats their myths. There is no central “Phillipines Mythology,” by which I mean there are a lot of smaller groups that each hold their own beliefs and they often are directly conflicting. This is part of why the evil spirits in the show, often just called the Aswang, are shapeshifters that can serve as either vampires, zombies, ghouls, or whatever other part the plot requires. Since each ethnic group viewed them a little differently, they can be almost anything that exists to hurt others. There are, naturally, also demigods and more powerful beings that can pose threats as well, and they’re usually more tied to one particular group than to the country as a whole.

Yeah, this… this is a thing.

Overall, solid show. Give it a shot if you like supernatural detective series.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – You: A Show Worth Obsessing Over? (Spoiler-Free)

Lifetime’s brilliant and unsung show You goes to Netflix and it’s hard to stop watching it… even if you’re in the bushes.


Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a bookstore manager who becomes attracted to a patron, an aspiring writer named Guinevere “Beck” Beck (Elizabeth Lail). He begins to follow her, stalking her, planning out methods by which he can become her boyfriend. This only covers episode one, but literally anything else about the show is a spoiler.

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She’s a writer, he’s a reader. It’s a match made from him following her home.


Like most of you, I didn’t hear about this show during its original run, but after hearing about it, I had to give it a try and dang, I would never have expected this level out of Lifetime. Granted, I don’t watch Lifetime, so maybe that’s on me.

The first positive of the show is that almost all of the characters are so much deeper than they originally appear. A lot of this is derived from the way in which we are introduced to them. At the beginning of the show, we almost exclusively see things from Joe’s viewpoint, complete with his narration. Joe is presented as a smart man, basically a Hannibal-Lector-esque predator, so we hardly question any of the conclusions and deductions he makes during the first few episodes… which makes it so much more interesting when we get more objective scenes where we find out that he isn’t as omniscient as he thinks and that the stereotypes he thinks that most of the supporting characters fit are not exactly what they turn out to be.

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Beck’s friends are so much more than they first appear.

Another positive is that they don’t exactly make Joe the enviable model of villain protagonist/anti-hero that we sometimes see in modern media, with guys wanting to be Don Draper (despite him being miserable for almost all of the series) or, more frighteningly, Dexter. Yes, some people, including some women, apparently, message Penn Badgley talking about how much they want to be, or be with, the character, but for the most part I think the show does go out of the way to make him undesirable. One way they do this is by making him the butt of many of the jokes in the show, ranging from him being massively wrong about his deductions to wildly overestimating some of his abilities and failing at a task he believes he’ll easily complete. It helps that Joe, while monstrous, still has positive traits, like when he is attempting to stop his neighbor from being abused by her boyfriend. By being able to hear his inner motivations, some of the things that he does are given grander, more heroic motivations… right until the show shifts to an objective point of view and we’re reminded that, oh, right, THIS GUY IS HORRIFYING.

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He’s literally a stalker and you almost like him.

The acting is spectacular, pretty much all around, with special credit going to the two leads and Luca Padovan who plays Joe’s young neighbor who is dealing with his mom’s horrible relationship and Natalie Paul who plays his babysitter. The cinematography and direction are both solid. The atmosphere that the show builds around Joe’s stalking conveys the darkness of the topic, while also putting in enough levity to make it tolerable.

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They have such great interplay.

The biggest positive, though, is that the show is almost impossible to predict. The writing is spectacular, but it really shines when the series alternates between playing things out how they would in real life and how they would in fiction. Sometimes, Joe succeeds only because the narrative allows him to pull off stunts that should be nearly impossible, but sometimes he fails at things because that’s what would happen in real life. The fact that you’re dealing simultaneously with both fiction and real logics keeps you on your toes. Additionally, the overall arc of the season doesn’t play out in the way that most stories of this kind do.

It helps that the show starts off narrated almost entirely from Joe’s perspective, before shifting to give us other viewpoints, allowing for a little bit of Rashomon-esque recontextualization of encounters, meaning that the narrative can suddenly change a character’s motivations while not invalidating the rest of their behaviors.

Overall, I was blown away by how much I ended up enjoying this series. I can’t wait for season 2. Give it a shot if you can handle a little darkness in your shows.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.