Julia Stiles' 'Riviera' Season 2 Kills It With Mediterranean Glam, Intrigue & Will Arnett
Sorry, Eva Longoria — your new Miami-set show Grand Hotel isn't TV's most glamorous and intrigue-laden destination right now. In Riviera, which just started-up Season 2 on SundanceNow, movie star Julia Stiles (Jason Bourne, Silver Linings Playbook) sashays around the picture-perfect south of France (playing itself!) as an American haute art expert in serious hot water.
For late-comers, the drama started when gorgeous expatriate Georgina (Stiles) — luxuriating in her new Cinderella life in the Côte d'Azur with her billionaire husband Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia) — learned her man was killed in a mysterious yacht explosion (try and top that, Below Deck). From there, Georgina found herself enmeshed in a scandal involving art forgery, money laundering, secret files, Russian assassins and gross behavior among her greedy, nouveau-riche in-laws. How gross? In Season 1's cliffhanger, Constantine's nasty son, Adam (Iwan Rheon), sexually attacked her, leaving her to — shhhh — secretly kill the guy.
So, as Georgina tries to hold on to her stake — and Constantine's suspicious first wife Irina (the amazing Lena Olin) lurks — we have two words for our hero’s continued stay in the Mediterranean: très awkward.
There's a lot going on beneath the surface of this lushly shot mystery.
“This season’s more of a Hitchcockian psychological thriller,” says executive producer Kris Thykier, phoning from Monaco, where the show’s lucky cast is doing a press event. “In Season 1, Georgina was the grieving widow who was trying figure out the world she was in.” Now that we know she’s capable of killing someone “in cold blood,” says Thykier, “We’ll see if can she can get away with murder—literally and morally. How does she feel about her actions?"
To help speed-up that journey, Will Arnett changes career gears as Georgina’s beloved uncle Jeff — apparently the last of the good guys. When Jeff arrives in the land of the oh-so-pretty, “He’s, like, ‘Wow, this place is great.’ He brings a little bit of fun, and he and Georgina have a warm bond. He’s sort of a moral compass.”
Arnett, Thykier says, fit in well with the show’s trappings. "He does have a very, very good tan.” Expect Jeff to blanch, though, if he ever finds out his niece stabbed her stepson.
Riviera remains chock full of glittery conflicts: It remains to be seen, for one, if Constantine’s still-alive son Christos (Dimitri Leonidas) can stay sober long enough to take over the family fortune. And, in twist that should lure-in Downton Abbey fans, the Clios clan encounter an aristocratic British family (Juliet Stevenson of Bend it Like Beckham dazzles as the matriarch, Lady Cassandra Eltham) with a local chateau and their own intrigue.
“The art market is rife money and glamor — and inflated prices and forgery and backbiting,” says Thykier. All of which makes Riviera “ a sunny place for shady characters."
Riviera, Thursdays, SundanceNow