The Purge Review: Lower Your Expectations and Have Fun

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As a big fan of The Purge franchise, word of a series based on it piqued my interest.

Watching the first three installments of USA Network's 10-episode event series doesn't take me to expected places, nor does it take me to unexpected, for that matter.

Instead, The Purge series is, as of the third installment, traipsing through probably 13 hours of a run-of-the-mill Purge night (albeit warmer than others), with an expectation of a higher degree of people on the streets.

Tough Guy - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

I'm not like other people. If I had been given this opportunity to examine the Purge in ten hours, I would have looked a little further into what makes America different as a result of the Purge. 

Yes, I like my entertainment to make me think and examine the broader issues. The Purge could be a relevant social conversation, but as it's mostly focused on the violence of the night.

Let's see an America with the 1% unemployment and crime rates. What are the people like? Is there a little Handmaid's Tale in there somewhere? It can't be as simple as it seems during the Purge.

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Shoot me on Purge night. I want to know these things!

As it stands, The Purge picks up about two hours before the annual Purge, which is probably on its tenth anniversary. That's a significant amount of time to be terrorized for 12 hours one night a year.

It's enough time that cults have grown up around it, people -- even those who cannot afford it -- have fortified their homes for use during that annual event, and if there are members of an OMF (Original Martyr Family) around, they're pretty special.

The Blue Bus - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

Even the medics are off-limits on Purge nights, something that isn't always the case in Purge movies. Purgers are still following in laws at the time the series is taking place.

The leads are varied, but most of them are gullible in that they have never Purged themselves. 

Miguel and Penelope (Jessica Garza) are separated, but the brother and sister duo are front and center as newly returned Marine Miguel wants to find his sister. His timing was terrible, arriving in town just an hour before the Purge.

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She's out of a rehab facility and on the Blue Bus with Miguel hunting her down. You can guess the gist of that plotline. He's going to stop at nothing to find her. Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) is the Frank Grillo of the series. 

They are the most interesting if you're into the kills and thrills of the streets on Purge night. They deliver the freaky deaky stuff and high octane action. However, as their characters have never met on screen as adults, it's hard to feel too much for them in their fight for survival.

Nonetheless, on the fun scale, they're at the top.

The Gullible Couple - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

The gullible married couple, probably most close to the original Purge movie and representing Ethan Hawke's family are Colin Woodell and Hanna Emily Anderson as Nick and Jenna Bettencourt, a couple of do-gooders unafraid to take a wealthy man's money in a deal with the devil if it means they help the disenfranchised.

It's highly likely they will regret going to a high-falutin' manor on Purge night before it's all over, and by the end of The Purge Season 1 Episode 3, their experience has barely begun.

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What we do know is for all their innocence, they rock it in the bedroom and with Mr. Moneybag's daughter, Lila (Banshee's Lili Simmons), who was not expected to be in the country let alone at the party. It makes for some uncomfortable and sexy moments with the couple and the expectation of more to come.

With a house full of elite people and nothing to keep any of them from Purging on each other than the word of their hosts, seven more episodes should make things interesting inside those fortified walls.

The most difficult plot to stomach follows a senior executive named Jane working with her people on Purge night to close a deal.

Jane the Executive - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

Amanda Warren (Jane) has an excellent resume of roles, so it has to be the part she's playing that makes her want to pull a sock over her head. She's phoning in every moment, and it's hard to take.

She's matched with a lame and easy-to-read plot that would be enough to put her (and anyone else) to sleep. Jane makes the worst moves, and it's surprising she survives to the start of the Purge let alone through the first hour.

Warren does have to tone it down to try to make Billy (William?) Baldwin look good, though, and that would be a feat in the making for anyone.

A Purge night in an office is boring. Waiting for the building to fill up with Purgers seems like a waste of time as, despite the good weather, there don't seem to be many out in the streets.

The budget might have been an issue, or it's possible the screeners I watched didn't have the background Purgers filled in yet, but I might have taken a stab at Purging if the weather was decent and the streets were as empty as in the first few hours shown.

The Awful Baldwin - The Purge Season 1 Episode 2

There are a lot of silly things that happen, and many things I would have done differently, but other shows have come out of early episodes and surprised me. I can't count out The Purge because I haven't seen it all.

Will the entire ten-episodes be dedicated to Purging? Something tells me they will, but maybe they won't. Maybe we'll never know how Purging has changed the world. Maybe we're not supposed to know. Maybe the violence and that so many are willing to pick up weapons and take to the streets is the message.

In the meantime, just kick back and enjoy the Purge.

The Purge begins tonight on USA Network at 10/9c.


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Purge Quotes

We are the scarred, the beaten, the souls irreparably damaged, and it is that shared pain that allows us to understand each other so deeply. Tonight, that suffering ends, my darlings. I will be your guide into the invisible where there is no pain, only love. The Giving Time is near. Let us ready.

Robed Leader Woman

Mr. Bettencourt: We're making a deal with the devil, babe.
Mrs. Bettencourt: We're taking the devil's money and we're going to do great things with it.