When her ex-boyfriend corners her at a music venue, a rising singer must confront their abusive past and find the strength to break free – literally and figuratively. Written and directed by Maggie Levin, “My Valentine” is the latest in the Into the Dark series on Hulu, very clearly tackling the upcoming holiday. It’s a glam pop dream with some quirky elements, the latter of which undermines the more serious themes featured in the episode.
Valentine (Britt Baron) is an up-and-coming pop singer alongside her bandmate and best friend. She’s heckled by a group of super fans for the popstar Trezzure (Anna Lore), who has an identical look and sound to hers – leading Val to be labeled a copycat. She ignores their jabs and performs a killer set. As the evening comes to a close and the concertgoers begin to thin out, Valentine is ambushed by her ex-boyfriend Royal (Benedict Samuel).
Royal acted as a sort of manager for Valentine, cowriting songs with her and shaping her identity as a singer. Though his passion for her musical career was nevertheless for selfish reasons, and his controlling, abusive behavior still haunts her even after she escaped. At first, a means to discuss ownership over songs, Royal’s ambush will soon take a more deadly turn.
The Into the Dark series has been so hit or miss with me. Perhaps it’s the benefit to an anthology series like this, because I’ll gladly tune into the next, even if I wasn’t pleased with an installment. With “My Valentine”, I drooled over certain elements. The vibrant lights and neon aesthetic gave me major Teen Spirit vibes, and the original music is catchy as hell (honestly… can we get it on Spotify please). Though, I can’t help but see a bit of inspiration by the Back Mirror episode featuring Ashley O (Miley Cyrus).
Despite the comparisons, I dug the overall look and feel of the episode. The juxtaposition of the electric set and poppy tunes with the darker themes of abusive relationships and PTSD was a highpoint. What dragged it for me were the hokey, more humorous elements that felt disjointed for most of it. There was such dark material at play, but the cartoonish, sometimes obnoxious, acting takes you out of it.
I think why the episode “I’m Just Fucking with You” was so successful in its merge of comedy and humor was due to there really not really being an underlying message. This episode dealt with such a heavier issue and did an mild job of tackling it, for the most part. This could have really nailed it, had it not been for the almost satirical level of the writing and performances. I personally wanted it to lean in more heavily to the severity of domestic abuse, which would undoubtedly amplify that contrast to the vibrancy and music.
The Into the Dark series is currently streaming on Hulu