May 23, 2022

BBC and Amazon mystery ‘Chloe’ is a tense identity charade

Scarily enough, it seems pretty easy to play pretend and gain access to someone’s life, if you’re willing to actively listen, boast a good memory, and inhale everything they’ve ever posted on social media. In Chloe, Becky Green is an expert at this. But there are details that slip through the cracks between posts, mysteries buried behind the party snaps.

Created, written, and directed by Sex Education writer/director Alice Seabright, the six-episode co-production between BBC One, Mam Tor Productions, and Amazon Studios follows a master of disguise on the hunt for answers after a seemingly random woman she obsesses over on social media suddenly dies. Becky’s first port of call? Chloe’s inner circle.

Erin Doherty, who played Princess Anne in The Crown, leaves Buckingham Palace behind for the role of Becky Green, a woman living in Bristol who we meet obsessively flicking through the picture-perfect social media account of one Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert). Snaps of pristine picnics, fancy dinner parties hosted with her handsome husband, indulgent nights out on the town with friends — Becky consumes it all, finding what appears to be a temporary escape from her own life. Living in a small flat, Becky has a strained relationship with her mother, Pam (Lisa Palfrey), who she’s caring for with early-onset dementia.

When she’s not at home, Becky plays pretend, using her social media stalking skills and her job as a temp to observe, eavesdrop, and mentally store details of the people around her and assume new identities. Why? To get into fancy parties, of course, but she’ll also use these skills for some shrewd detective work, which becomes the core of the series. Using quick thinking and careful planning to maintain the ruse, she’s almost like Killing Eve‘s Villainelle (without the murders), and Doherty expertly changes Becky’s demeanour instantly through her various identities, from perfectly friendly and confident to fiercely unsettling.

Becky (Erin Doherty) and Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner) in "Chloe"

Becky (Erin Doherty) and Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner).
Credit: BBC

Becky’s way to weasel into Chloe’s friend group is through her best friend, Livia, played by Gangs Of London‘s Pippa Bennett-Warner, in what seems like a genuine start to a friendship, though obviously staged on one side. But once she’s in, things intensify — and the cast expands.

Poldark‘s Jack Farthing stars as Chloe’s brooding friend Richard, who seems to be taking her death harder than her husband, the quiet councillor Elliot, played by The Serpent‘s Billy Howle. Meanwhile Grace star Akshay Khanna is overtly friendly as Elliot’s business partner and friend Anish. Besides Richard, the only one who might see through Becky is Josh, played by Search Party‘s Brandon Micheal Hall, who could threaten to bring the whole ruse down.

Jack Farthing as Richard in "Chloe."

Something’s doesn’t feel right about Richard…
Credit: BBC

The show will almost certainly require a second watch in order to uncover even more details about how Becky pieces together her perfectly matched identity that fits a little too easily into the friendship group, why she picks her fake job and life details according to posts from Chloe’s friends on social media, and how her incredibly convincing lies might actually stem from the truth. Becky’s connection to Chloe is unclear: is it a random obsession or not?

While we’ve only been given the first episode to watch before its release, Chloe is already a compelling mystery, blending false identity, secrets among friends, and the curated picture of perfection we post online. The big question: who exactly is Chloe Fairbourne to Becky Green, and what actually happened the night she died?

Chloe will premiere on Feb. 6 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and Prime Video in the U.S. and more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.