‘Eye Candy’ investigates teen mystery

When I first heard about MTV’s new thriller “Eye Candy,” written by Christian Taylor and based off of the novel by R.L. Stine, I wasn’t too inclined to watch it given its premise and network. However, when I saw that Victoria Justice played the main character, I decided to give it a chance, since the last time I had seen the young actress on my screen was as Lola Martinez on “Zoey 101,” and I was curious to see how she would take on more adult roles. After watching it, I’m glad I gave the show a shot, though it still has a long way to go in certain aspects.

“Eye Candy” centers on Lindy Sampson, a genius hacker, whose sister, Sarah, was kidnapped soon after the death of their mother. The show starts off with a flashback of the two sisters, during the day Sarah was kidnapped three years ago. Lindy picks Sarah up from hanging out with her boyfriend, and though the sisters had a somewhat strained relationship, Lindy tries to look out for Sarah as best she can. As they stop at a gas station and Sarah gets out of the car, a van pulls up behind her and someone grabs her, with Lindy stuck in her car and unable to do anything.

Three years later, Lindy is using her hacking skills to help other people whose loved ones have gone missing. She uses the resources available to her through her mundane job to do this, but she can get in major trouble for it as she is on parole and was arrested for her hacking in the past. Sophia, Lindy’s best friend, convinces her to get back in the dating game after the end of her messy relationship with Ben—her parole officer who got Lindy arrested—and she joins Flirtual, a Tinder-like dating app, under the name “Eye Candy.” However, Lindy soon discovers that someone is using Flirtual to stalk and kill other girls, and may be stalking her as well.

The separate mysteries of the show are set up well the abduction of Lindy’s sister, the missing cases and later murder of multiple women. It is heavily implied that the same person is behind all three of these mysteries, or at least that they are all closely linked somehow. At first glance, “Eye Candy” has a very similar vibe to the ABC Family show “Pretty Little Liars,” and I was worried the show would follow in the latter’s footsteps and make similar mistakes, with dragging out the murder mystery for too long and going back and forth between too many suspects. The pacing so far is decent, and hopefully the show will continue on that path.

For the most part, the characters and relationship dynamics are mediocre thus far. Justice does a great job as Lindy, who is incredibly smart and competent as well as stubborn and reckless. Her roommate and best friend, Sophia, is pushy when it comes to Lindy, but only wants what is best for her friend. She’s bubbly and caring, and hopefully will get her own backstory and storylines soon. Connor, Sophia’s best friend, has a slightly antagonistic relationship with Lindy, but one I suspect will strengthen and grow over the season. George, who works with Lindy, is sweet and loyal, and helps Lindy when tough situations arise. Tommy, who works with the police and is Ben’s friend, also has a tense relationship with Lindy -they butt heads often, but it’s possible that they will be love interests in the future. Ben’s character wasn’t given much depth and was essentially wasted, However, he turned out to be an important catalyst for Lindy’s character and development. The biggest flaw with the characterizations is that most, if not all, of the characters seem to revolve around Lindy. To add more depth, it is also important for characters to have more backstories and storylines in addition to their interactions with Lindy.

The stalker-serial killer character is written really well. Though we never see his face, the show takes the viewers into his twisted mind, using voiceovers to portray his thoughts as he picks out and preys on his victims. Though his depiction can be campy and melodramatic at times, he is still a compelling and interesting antagonist. The way the various mysteries are intertwined grab the viewer instantly, even if the characterization leave room for improvement.

When it comes to representation, “Eye Candy” is decent enough, and though the cast is largely white, Sophia is Black, and Lindy being half-Puerto Rican is acknowledged on the show. Additionally, Connor is gay.

Overall, “Eye Candy” is certainly intriguing, with a plot that will keep viewers coming back for more, though it can also be too dramatic and milks the creepiness factor in every way it can. The characters and relationship dynamics can use some work, but they all have a lot of potential. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but the audience most likely won’t be able to stop watching.

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