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Amazon Prime Video's latest TV drama is a critical smash

Prime Video has a new drama, but is Nicole Kidman's performance a hit or a dud?

Amazon Prime Video's latest TV drama is a critical smash
Andrew Williams
24 January 2024

Prime Video’s Expats has just landed, and has already picked up top scores from some reviewers.

Expats is a series about a bunch of, you guessed it, expats living in Hong Kong. One of them in played by Nicole Kidman, Margaret.

Her son Gus dies, and it puts a strain on all her surrounding relationships. It plays out as a multi-threaded drama over six episodes.

Expats reviews

The Evening Standard gave Expats a stonking 5-star review, saying “this is a triumph.”

“Used to the sausage factory produce of streaming channels, I wasn’t expecting to find this drama so interesting and subtle.”

One of the key strengths of Expats is it’s not just a familiar genre piece, where the beats of the drama can be predicated by TV-watching veterans.

However, another of the top positive reviews is in complete disagreement with that first, saying it’s actually star Nicole Kidman who is the weak link in Expats.

“She looks and behaves like an alien. Her delivery is weird. Scenes in which she tries to convey grief or fear or hysteria are like an AI programme glitchily simulating human emotion,” says the Daily Telegraph’s review.

“I have no idea what she’s done to her face, but it’s so distractingly odd that she’s simply the wrong casting these days to play an ordinary mortal.” Shade thrown, but it’s otherwise a largely positive write-up that compliments the beautiful cinematography and “rich” drama on offer in Expats.

The Observer review suggests there’s something “missing” from Expats, which may once again hinge on the idea Nicole Kidman doesn’t quite pull the show together as hoped.

“Kidman’s performance hinges on crazy at times, making for an escalation that comes far too quickly for the series’ slow pace,” the show says.

However, it also says Expats is “well written, well shot and well acted,” and smart, so don’t let that put you off.

Things take a bit of a slide when we head away from UK reviewers, and off into the US.

Collider says Expats misses the mark quite often, but we find it hard to call it a negative review when the writer still clearly saw bags of potential, and good moments, here.

“Expats too often feels like a glimpse at something greater that the show never quite captures,” it says.

Entertainment Weekly is the only review so far that sounds largely unpersuaded, hinging on a criticism we’ve seen elsewhere. “Expats… feels, in the end, like many separate stories looking for a home.”

So will you side with the British, or have the same take as the Americans? There’s only one way to find out.

Expats is a six-part series conceived by Lulu Wang, who wrote and directed 2019’s exceptional The Farewell.