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Photo Courtesy of Script for Netflix

Netflix’s Mea Culpa Leaves Audience Confused with Multiple Plot Lines 

Human beings are often well-intentioned, but wildly imperfect. People are constantly trying to do what is right yet slipping up, trying to please the people in their lives yet letting them down, constantly making mistakes and apologizing, all while judging everyone else for doing the same thing.

Breanna Tillie

Human beings are often well-intentioned, but wildly imperfect. People are constantly trying to do what is right yet slipping up, trying to please the people in their lives yet letting them down, constantly making mistakes and apologizing, all while judging everyone else for doing the same thing. 

This is why drama within film and television is so sought-after. Dramas showcase the relatable and messy complexities of the human experience, allowing viewers to both analyze and judge the situations that the characters get themselves into, all while doing major introspective reflection on the choices they make in their own lives. 

A new drama “Mea Culpa” was released by Netflix on Feb. 24 after being promoted as a legal drama. The film features a defense attorney, Mea Harper, who takes on a case defending a man named Zyair Malloy.  Zyair has been accused of killing his missing girlfriend. Although Mea’s husband, Kal, does not want her to defend Zyair, Kal has been out of work for months and Mea insists that the couple needs the money. 

While this is the running plot, the movie also features a subplot of Mea and Kal having marital problems due to rumors of Kal being unfaithful and the hostile relationship between Mea and Kal’s mother. The problems in the marriage reach an all-time high after Mea cheats on Kal with Zyair after mistakenly believing that he cheated first due to a misunderstanding. 

Ratings and reviews for “Mea Culpa” have overall been quite poor across platforms, largely due to how much is happening within the plot. It is unclear if this is supposed to be the legal drama it was advertised as because not only were there no scenes that took place in a courtroom, but the subplots seemed to take up as much time in the movie as the primary plot. 

Additionally, there was very little chemistry between any of the characters in the movie. While there was certainly potential for complexity in many of the characters, the movie’s script was too much of what one would expect in a soap opera to explore any of the depth that these characters possessed. The movie mentions Kal being unemployed due to addiction problems, yet never explores why he had these problems. The movie features a friendship between Mea and Kal’s sister-in-law Charlise, but the friendship is underdeveloped and contributes nothing positive to the story. 

However, the movie does shed light on interesting subjects that can lead to productive discussions among viewers. The marital problems between Mea and Kal largely stem from how overbearing and opinionated Kal’s mother is about Mea and how Kal does so little to defend her. Mea mentions that she always desired a man who loved his mother, yet the extent to which Kal goes to affirm his mother is ridiculous. This presents interesting questions to explore. What should the boundary be regarding parental involvement in a relationship? How does one strike a balance between respecting their parents and honoring their spouse? Is a relationship with a person that has a difficult family worth staying in? 

Though Mea is the protagonist of the film, she is certainly not to be regarded as a perfect character because she does cheat on her husband. However, she only does this because she believes he cheated first. This can spark an interesting conversation on whether cheating can ever be considered forgivable or at the very least understandable. While most will likely still condemn cheating as morally reprehensible no matter what, a film like this one where the protagonist does cheat can provide additional perspective. 

Overall, while this movie is high on drama and does explore interesting themes and topics, there may be other films that do a far better job with it by having a less scattered plot and more character development.