The tangled web we weave

Jody Houston reviews Chloe, available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

This series tells the story of Becky Green (Erin Doherty). We quickly understand that Becky is bored of her life, full of the mundane with elements of stress. We see Becky use social media to sneak a peek at other people’s lives – a temporary escape to cope with the responsibility of caring for her mother who suffers from early-onset dementia.

We could easily fall for the narrative that social media is damaging; the lives being portrayed are filtered to suggest they are perfect and endlessly happy. For a time, this seems to offer comfort to Becky, a way of almost living voyeuristically. However, when an influencer named Chloe (Poppy Gilbert) that she closely follows suddenly dies she becomes drawn to uncover the truth behind the filters. Becky begins to make some strange choices to gain access to the lives of Chloe’s recently bereaved friends. In doing so, Becky weaves a tangled web of deception and lies.

Through watching this series, I was struck by how important intersectionality is in understanding an individual’s motivations and actions. Becky’s life has many facets: she is an intelligent aspirational young woman from a working-class background who has been through so much in her past and is coping with her mother’s increasing care needs. As an aspiring clinical psychologist, I was drawn to consider Becky as someone accessing mental health support. I attempted to create a formulation to help make sense of the strange decisions she was making. This flexed and evolved as the dynamics of the relationships she shares with us continued.

As the story unfolds and we learn more about Becky and Chloe’s lives, I felt that the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) could be a helpful tool to support Becky to process her experiences. I felt the story ended somewhat abruptly, and I imagined Becky trying to piece together everything that had happened. The PTMF could support her to explore her experiences of power as it changes over time, and particularly, how this affected her. As I watched I could see her actions linked to her sense of power in each situation. For example, when she is powerless, we can see her visceral senses take over as panic sets in. As these discussions unfolded in my mind, I felt she could start to understand her actions and move away from the narrative that she was delusional and towards a more positive frame to perceive her actions. I couldn’t help but think there was a new career path for her using her investigative skills.

Erin Doherty delivers a thrilling performance that had me hooked, but also struggling to trust in what I saw on the surface.

- Reviewed by Jody Houston, BSc (Hons) Psychology; MEd Sp Ed (Autism).

Twitter: @JodyHou01245402

Instagram: @Good_Psychology_Reads

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