Elisabeth Moss’s Thriller ‘Shining Girls’ Is Confusing, Reality-Bending and a Really Good Watch

Get ready for a lot of twists and turns

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Elizabeth Moss Apple TV Plus Shining Girls Series CAT2
Apple TV+

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

As a true admirer of the thriller genre, I was instantly intrigued when I first watched the trailer for the Apple TV+ series, Shining Girls, with the first few episodes of which premiered on April 29, 2022.

About Shining Girls

Shining Girls was inspired by Lauren Beukes’ novel of the same name, which hit shelves on April 15, 2013. Created and written by Silka Luisa, the Apple TV+ thriller series received relatively positive reviews at the time of its release, with a 7.4/10 rating on IMDb and 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (with an audience score of 86 percent, might I add). In addition to Elisabeth Moss, Shining Girls featured a talented ensemble cast, which included Wagner Moura (Narcos), Phillipa Soo (Hamilton), Christopher Denham (Oppenheimer), Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange Is the New Black) and Erika Alexander (Living Single).

Shining Girls Explained

Based on the best-selling novel, the plot revolves around a reserved young woman named Kirby Mazrachi (Elisabeth Moss, who you may know from The Handmaid's Tale). A newspaper archivist for the Chicago Sun-Times, she soon finds herself trying to pick up the pieces of her life after a brutal attack leaves her questioning reality.

However, Kirby learns that another woman has fallen victim to her attacker. Determined to catch the culprit before he strikes again, she teams up with a veteran journalist named Dan Velazquez (Wagner Moura). Together, they try to stop the assailant while Kirby grapples with her troubling past.

While the first season of Shining Girls captivated viewers from beginning to end, fans couldn’t help but wonder if the Apple TV+ thriller series was going to return for a second installment. So, is the first season worth watching? Could there be a Shining Girls season 2?

Keep scrolling to read my honest review of Shining Girls.

Shining Girls Review

The first episode starts in the year 1992 and we’re first introduced to our protagonist, Kirby, as she’s writing down her daily activities in a journal. She documents the small details in her life, from her cat’s name to who her roommate Rachel is. This is the first indication of her ever-changing mental state, which plays a key role throughout the episode.

For example, Kirby returns home from work and hears a loud bang on the door. The sound grows louder with each passing second. Then, a dog emerges from the other side, which startles Kirby (and us as well). Later on, it becomes apparent that she doesn’t have a cat, but a dog named Grendel. After the traumatic assault, it seems Kirby has a hard time differentiating what is her present reality. In some ways, her past life seems to blur with the present, oftentimes leaving the viewer in a state of confusion, which makes it a truly great watch.

Elizabeth Moss Shining Girls Apple TV Plus CAT
Apple TV+

As a viewer I also had a tough time telling what’s real and what's fake—and that in itself makes the story even more terrifying. Not only that, it causes us to further empathize with Kirby, and Moss does an exceptional job of making us feel every raw emotion.

Another concept I found myself loving is that the show is told from the attacker’s point of view. Throughout the episode, we see the assailant stalking his next victim, who is another young woman named Jin-sook. Even though Kirby doesn’t know the identity of her attacker, we get to see him in the flesh—and we learn his sinister tactics and how he lures women.

Jamie Bell Shining Girls CAT
Apple TV+

Yes, the concept makes the show even more engaging—I found myself wanting to learn more about the attacker and his backstory. Like, what made him choose this life? Who are the other victims?

Elizabeth Moss Injured Shining Girls CAT
Apple TV+

Is Shining Girls Worth It?

After watching the first episode, Shining Girls is undoubtedly a promising thriller that will keep viewers on their toes. Take it from me, who watched the episode from beginning to end and wanted to immediately watch the next episode (I was left with quite a few questions). It’s a confusing, yet gripping watch.

PureWow Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Crime show lovers will really enjoy Shining Girls for its intense, thrilling narrative. From its shocking twists and turns to jaw-dropping revelations, the series will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, even as you struggle to separate fantasy from reality in Kirby’s ever-changing world.

The first three episodes premiered on Friday, April 29, 2022, on Apple TV+. The remaining six episodes were released on a weekly basis, with the season finale airing on June 3, 2022. And, take it from me, you certainly won’t be disappointed with this gripping crime drama.

Elizabeth Moss Doing Research Shining Girls CAT
Apple TV+

Will There Be a Shining Girls Season 2?

While the finale episode of Shining Girls season one wrapped up the series in a neatly tied bow, fans still wanted to know: Could there possibly be a season two?

The Apple TV+ series concluded the same way as the novel. But star Elisabeth Moss believes there is more to the story.

Back in June 2022, the actress sat down with The Wrap and shared her hopes for a second season. “Personally speaking, just honestly, I feel like there’s more story to tell,” she told the outlet. “I think that sometimes with the first season, you’ve just given everybody a lay of the land. And then in the second season, you get to actually get down to business and have some fun. So I would be interested in ‘where do we go now’ and not having to explain the world, but getting to go deeper into it.”

Moss went on to share that there have been talks to continue the series, revealing, “It’s not like nobody talks about it, right? Anytime anything goes well, everyone’s like, ‘Should we do it again?’ [But] there are many people that have to make that decision, as you know, and the big conversation and all of that. So, actually, honestly, I don’t know right now.”

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Assistant Editor, News And Entertainment

Karelle McKay is the Assistant Editor of News and Entertainment at PureWow. Before she started writing about all things pop culture, she was a literal couch potato who loved...