CITY ON FIRE on Apple TV+ is a new series with eight episodes. It’s a mystery that plays out across a few timelines. Thriller and drama are the main drivers, and the cast utilizes their talents perfectly within these. Read our full City on Fire series review here!

CITY ON FIRE on Apple TV+ is a new series with eight episodes. An intense mystery that plays out across a few timelines and involves the lives of very different people. It takes place in New York City and the story plays out in 2002 and 2003. So still very much in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.

While thriller and drama are the main drivers as far as genre, this is very much a character-driven story. Fortunately, the series has an amazing cast. Full of familiar faces and a few new ones that I hope to see again in more productions.

Continue reading our City on Fire series review below. Find it on Apple TV+ from May 12, 2023.

Understand the present by looking at the past

As is so often the case, we can understand what’s going on right now by looking at what happened earlier. This is why it’s perfect that City of Fire has a story that plays out across more than just one time period.

When the new Apple TV+ series begins, a young female NYU student has just been shot in Central Park on the Fourth of July, 2003. Her name is Samantha and she’s all alone when she’s found lying on the ground. There are no witnesses and very little physical evidence.

The young man who finds her and calls the police is arrested. Mostly due to him being black. Okay, and one other detail that isn’t his own fault, but does explain an arrest. It doesn’t explain why they would think he shot her and then called the police.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s friends are waiting for her at a downtown club where their favorite band is playing. She leaves to meet someone but promises to return in an hour, but she never does. Her friend Charlie goes to look for her – because she asked him to if she didn’t come back as promised – and finds her just before the police arrive.

As the crime against Samantha is investigated, we find out that she also has a connection to other strange events that are seemingly unrelated. These events include a series of mysterious citywide fires, the downtown music scene, and a wealthy uptown real estate family that are about to meet disaster.

To understand how it all came to this, we go back to 2002, when many of the sparks took hold. So to speak.

City on Fire – Review | Apple TV+ Series

A powerhouse of actors

The key characters from the very beginning are portrayed by Chase Sui Wonders, Wyatt Oleff, Jemima Kirke, Xavier Clyde, Nico Tortorella, Max Milner, and John Cameron Mitchell. As a character-driven story, this is a delightful powerhouse of actors to have as storytellers.

Chase Sui Wonders (Bodies Bodies Bodies) is Samantha, who is found shot in Central Park on the 4th of July in 2003, but also plays a huge part in the lives of several other characters. In particular in Charlie’s life.

Charlie is portrayed by Wyatt Oleff who I wasn’t crazy about in It, but then he was in the Netflix series I Am Not Okay with This where he was great.


Our review of the amazing I Am Not Okay with This which tragically only got one season >

Jemima Kirke (Maniac) plays a wealthy woman, who used to be carefree and fun, but is now a glorified housewife meant to take over the family business. She’s tough, beautiful, and whip-smart. However, she’s also desperately miserable in her marriage which has a little something to do with Samantha (Chase Sui Wonders).

As her estranged brother, we get Nico Tortorella as the tormented (and very drug-addicted) William, delivering a fierce and strong portrayal. His boyfriend is Mercer, the young black man who finds Samantha shot in Central Park, and he is just the most loving and wonderful character.

Mercer is portrayed by Xavier Clyde who I cannot wait to see in more productions! Xavier Clyde just shines and comes across so strong in every single scene. Whether it shows anger and heartbreak or the purest love, he just gets you hooked in the best way possible.

Start watching City on Fire on Apple TV+ now!

The new Apple TV+ series City on Fire was created, written, and executive produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, The O.C.). It’s based on – or rather inspired by – the acclaimed Garth Risk Hallberg novel of the same name. I have not read the book so I can’t speak as to how close it stays to the original story.

Directors on the eight episodes include Jesse Peretz (GLOW), Liz Garbus (Lost Girls), and Haifaa Al-Mansour (Florida Man).

The first two episodes are released when the series premieres on Apple TV+. One episode was enough to get me intrigued, but with the two episodes, it was pretty much guaranteed that I’d want to keep watching.

City on Fire premieres on Apple TV+ on May 12, 2023.


Creators: Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage
Cast: Wyatt Oleff, Chase Sui Wonders, Jemima Kirke, Nico Tortorella, Ashley Zukerman, Xavier Clyde, Max Milner, Alexandra Doke, Omid Abtahi, Kathleen Munroe, John Cameron Mitchell


A college student is shot in Central Park on July 4, 2003. The investigation connects a series of mysterious citywide fires, the downtown music scene, and a wealthy uptown real estate family fraying under the strain of the many secrets they keep.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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