SXSW TV Review: Mrs. Davis

Mad nuns, mad AIs, and mad energy from the new Peacock show

Betty Gilpin in MRS. DAVIS (credit: Sophie Kohler/PEACOCK)

There’s always one TV show or movie at SXSW (and in recent years, it’s been a TV show) that feels a little ubiquitous. Ads, activations, marketing, panels… there’s always one that just seems very THERE.

This year, it is the upcoming Peacock show Mrs. Davis. Set in the present, it’s a sci-fi/fantasy/fable starring the excellent Betty Gilpin as a nun who goes to war, sort of, with an AI that has come to dominate people’s lives.

Images of Gilpin as Sister Simone felt all over the place and a gaggle of women dressed as nuns wandered around downtown and attracted all sorts of photographic and social media attention.

Mrs. Davis is helmed by executive producer Damon Lindelof, known for Lost and The Leftovers, and whose Watchmen was easily one of the finest series of the past 20 years, and run by first-time solo showrunner Tara Hernandez, a producer on Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory who clearly knows from dope nuns.

The first two episodes, shown as part of SXSW, were filled with surreal moments one wouldn’t want to spoil… but it’s hard to say if one even could. Suffice it to say that Mrs. Davis contains an ingenious twist on the Knight Templar, a few decapitations, hostility towards magicians, lots of strawberry jam, a secret base, nuns on motorcycles, German helmets and an AI that everyone really, really loves. A lot.

While there is no way to know how much of this is Hernandez and how much is Lindelof, the latter knows from comic books, and Mrs. Davis brims with the WTF/ “and then…and then…and then” visual and thematic energy of the most gonzo genre comics. (Personal to Lindelof: we should discuss Steve Gerber sometime.)

All of this works thanks largely to Gilpin, whose screen presence we are all still vaguely underrating. The breakout star of the remarkable wrestling show GLOW, Gilpin’s face is an expressive marvel, more than comfortable with massive tonal shifts. Also look for typically strong work from Margo Martindale, David Arquette and the extremely funny Chris Diamantopoulos.

Gilpin has also said that the first two episodes are the “most normal.” Bring it on. Amen.

Mrs. Davis

TV Premieres, World Premiere

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