Music is a deep-rooted, vital part of everyone’s life. It is playing on the radio, streaming on the internet, and bouncing across our daydreaming minds on a constant basis. It accentuates life around us, and in a lot of popular fiction. Dozens of films have been made about fictional and living musicians, most of them biographies of some sort. With that type of storytelling, you are rushed through a person’s life without a pauses.
Riders, a new webseries written and created by Alexandra McGuinness, is not like those stories. Riders lives in those pauses. The series focuses on Mary (Nora Kirpatrick), a determined but aloof singer on the path to a great career. Each episode shows the history behind a song that Mary has written, jumping to the point in her life in which inspiration struck, whether that’s dropping acid at a wedding or sitting next to a couple that dreams of having sex on Mars. Mary performs the song in question, music video style, at the end of every episode. It is both a palate cleanser from the soft, slow drama of the episode and a welcome endcap. The music, performed by Kirpatrick, is surprisingly good. It is haunting, and soulful, and from a genre that’s difficult to describe. But it is captivating, and it doesn’t let you go.
Speaking of captivating, Nora Kirpatrick is an absolute delight to watch on screen. She has a soft air about her that draws you in, that makes you feel as if you’re in the room with her. Years ago, I watched her in the college soap opera Greek, in which I felt she was under-utilized. So it was a big delight to see her on my screen once more, finally in the leading role that she deserves. Kirpatrick has a way of giving a powerful performance while sitting motionless, glaring through mirrored sunglasses that hide half her face. The dialogue happening onscreen is rarely as important as her subtle performance, which drives the narrative.
Riders quite beautifully intertwines Kirpatrick’s performance with the soulful musical undercurrent each episode in a dance that makes you wonder how the episode has already ended. They are sadly each only around ten minutes long, and only three episodes have been released. The quality is there for this series, and it is my personal hope that Riders marches to the beat of their own drum, and continues making fascinating episodes.