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‘Defending Jacob’ on Apple TV+ Will Make You Question Those You Love

IndieWire First Look: Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery play parents whose son is accused of murder.

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Chris Evans in Defending Jacob

The best mysteries are ones that force the audience to look askance at the people they love. How much do you truly know about your spouse, parents, children? This is the plot at the heart of the new Apple TV+ series, “Defending Jacob.”

Based on the novel of the same name by William Landay, series creator Mark Bomback and director Morton Tyldum craft a tightly wound tale of familial connections and what happens to a family when they’re forced to question what they know about each other.

The series follows the Barber family and what happens when their only child, Jacob (Jaedan Martell) is arrested on charges of killing a fellow classmate. His father, district attorney Andy (Chris Evans) is forced to go against his own sense of morality to do what’s best to protect his child while wife, Laurie (Michelle Dockery) copes with the social ostracism that follows. As Jacob goes through the criminal courts system, leading to an eventual trial, Andy and Laurie start to wonder if they’ve missed something with their son and whether Jacob truly is capable of committing the crime he’s accused of.

As Evans says in the first look video recently released by Apple, there’s a “strong engine” which guides the series over its eight-episode arc. As Martell says in the video, the series plays out more like an eight-hour movie as opposed to a television show. “A lot of trust issues, a lot of guilt” starts to plague the family. “How well can you ever know anyone?” Bomback says. “This show forces us to think about those boundaries that exist for the people we love.”

The show’s first trailer dropped a few weeks ago and introduces the basic tenets of the story that will keep audiences on the edge of their seat.

As seen with movies like “The Bad Seed” or “The Good Son” the show draws on those “crisis of parenting,” according to Bomback that makes parents question the idea of nature versus nurture. “How well do we know our children [and] how far are we willing to go?” says Tyldum.

“There’s a cliffhanger for every episode,” say Evans and fans will be eager to continue watching to see where the story goes.

The first three episodes of “Defending Jacob” will stream exclusively on Apple TV+ starting April 24.

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