LOVE & DEATH on HBO Max is a new series based on a true crime case. In fact, it’s the exact same case as covered in Hulu’s CANDY. Obviously, this begs the question: Do we need another series? And no, we really don’t. Read our Love & Death series review here!

LOVE & DEATH is a new HBO Max series, but the story will be very familiar. First, it’s based on a true crime case that you might have heard of. Second, a series about the very same case came out on Hulu just under a year ago (May 9, 2022).


Our review of the Hulu series Candy that had Jessica Biel in the title role >

Of course, this new take on the same true crime does have several things going for it. It has a stellar cast led by the wonderful Elizabeth Olsen and also David E. Kelley is the creator. That just makes it even more difficult to understand why this version feels less relevant than the Hulu series. In fact, it is utterly redundant!

Continue reading our Love & Death series review below. Find the first three episodes on HBO Max on April 27, 2023.

We just really don’t need this series

As soon as I heard about Love & Death covering the same case as Hulu’s CANDY, I couldn’t help but think that it felt a bit excessive. To say the least! Then I read about the cast and creator and figured; Well, maybe it’ll bring something new to the table.

And it does. But not in any good way!

Even the plot sounds like something that is meant to create hype in an overt way. When really, the actual true crime is plenty in and of itself. Officially, this is the true story of Candy and Pat Montgomery and Betty and Allan Gore. But the crime involves Betty dying brutally at the hands of Candy. Was it self-defense, is the main question.

But no, according to the plot of Love & Death, it is about “two churchgoing couples enjoying their small-town Texas life… until an extramarital affair leads somebody to pick up an axe”. And yes, that is also true, but it’s just such a tacky and oversimplifying way of describing the events.

Love & Death (2023) – Review | HBO True Crime Series

WTF is up with the character portrayals in Love & Death?

In too many ways, Love & Death feels like a “movie of the week” or a “Hollywood make-over” of a true crime story. Instead of showing Candy Montgomery with her perm and huge glasses (as Jessica Biel in Candy), we get a very lovely version in Love & Death.

Having said this, I really urge people to recognize that these portrayal decisions are not made by the actor but by those behind the camera. Elizabeth Olsen is always great, but having her portray Candy Montgomery in this way just feels like a sugar-coating situation.

In fact, Lily Rabe (another actor I adore) is also way too pretty as Betty Gore. The woman who dies a very brutal death at the hands of Candy Montgomery. In Candy, she was portrayed by Melanie Lynskey. If you look up the real Candy and Betty, you’ll see that Hulu’s Candy stayed much more true to their actual appearance.


Of course, you do, so check out the Stephen King hybrid-story series CASTLE ROCK on HBO Max >

And then, in a classic Hollywood move that should’ve died decades ago, Alan Gore is portrayed by Jesse Plemons. However, he does get to portray the character closer to what we saw in Candy. A charming man, who isn’t necessarily a prince to look at, but has something about him.

I think Jesse Plemons is an amazing actor and he could’ve worked well in both series. As could Patrick Fugit as Candy’s husband Pat Montgomery. Are you catching my drift here? The women have to look like gorgeous versions of the real people they portray. The men, meanwhile, are made to look closer to the real-life versions.

Watching this, I just could not help but think of Kevin Can F**K Himself in terms of that casting trope! And that’s all I’ll say about that.

You can watch Love & Death on HBO Max

Love & Death was written by David E. Kelley, who has made so many successful series in the past. From Picket Fences and Ally McBeal to Big Little Lies. Most episodes are directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. She has directed all sorts of series in the past – from Mad Men and True Blood to The Walking Dead. And the directing really isn’t the issue here.

The story and “feel” of it is, and that part lands squarely on the otherwise very capable shoulders of David E. Kelley! The fact that Nicole Kidman is onboard as a producer must be due to her successful David E. Kelley collaborations on series like Big Little Lies and The Undoing. This new series is a far cry from that intense and intelligent storytelling!

For the record, I would absolutely want to watch Candy, even if Love & Death had been released first. Simply because the storytelling is better and the characters are portrayed more realistic visually. I have no idea why anyone felt this was a necessary addition. Do we need another series about Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore? No, we really don’t.

The HBO Max Original series Love & Death is a seven-episode limited series. Three episodes are released on the premiere day and weekly episodes will be released with the final episode airing on May 25, 2023.

You can watch the first 3 episodes of Love & Death when it premieres on HBO Max on April 27, 2023.


Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Writer: David E. Kelley
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Jesse Plemons, Lily Rabe, Patrick Fugit, Krysten Ritter, Tom Pelphrey,  Keir Gilchrist, Elizabeth Marvel.


Love & Death tells the true story of Candy and Pat Montgomery and Betty and Allan Gore – two churchgoing couples enjoying their smalltown Texas life… until an extramarital affair leads somebody to pick up an axe.

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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