A perfect 1980s housewife snaps in ‘Candy’ | Lifestyle

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Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore had everything they wanted: a husband, children, a house in their small Texas community. They bonded over car pools and church picnics, as 1980s housewives are supposed to do. Then Candy killed Betty with an axe.

“Candy,” which premiered Monday on Hulu, tells the true story of the brutal murder that shook their close-knit town on June 13, 1980, when Gore’s brutalized body with 41 ax wounds unraveled a spiderweb of infidelity and expectations.

“These two women who were given everything that they were supposed to have to be happy … and they weren’t,” showrunner Robin Veith said. “You weren’t allowed to be unhappy if you had all of these things, so there was this constant emptiness that they didn’t know how to deal with.”

“Candy” spends its pilot on the fatal day, when Montgomery (Jessica Biel) drives around town running errands and Gore (Melanie Lynskey) stays home with her newborn, left alone once again when her husband goes out of town for work. There’s an immediate understanding that this is these women’s lives, day in, day out.

“I think she kept trying to take on too much, which is true for a lot of women,” Lynskey said of her character, who she believes was suffering from postpartum depression.

“You just keep saying ‘Yes’ and offering to do more and putting more on your plate until it’s like, ‘Hang on a second, I’m so overwhelmed that I just want to sit in a dark room for a day and cry, ‘” she said. “You don’t know when you’re heading to that point; you only know when you’re there.”

In Montgomery’s telling, and the one that the jury believed enough to acquire on the basis of self-defense, she blacked out during the attack. She went into a “dissociative reaction,” her psychologist testified, a rage triggered by childhood trauma. Gore had found out about Montgomery’s affair with her husband, Allan, and confronted her friend. It didn’t matter that of the 41 blows delivered by the ax, 40 were made while Gore was still alive.

So “Candy” choreographed their fatal fight exactly as Montgomery described.

“We very specifically did Candy’s version of it,” Lynskey said. “We choreographed the story that she told in court, added no action or anything like that. There were things that didn’t make sense, frankly. It was hard to get from A to B.”

But the show spends less time on the how than the why; the actual attack isn’t seen onscreen until the final episode. Instead, it focuses on how the two women got there, both separately and together. How they found themselves alone, taking care of their children and their houses, because it never occurs to their husbands to help. How they sought comfort in others, Gore in a group called “Marriage Encounters” and Montgomery in Gore’s husband. How their community began to close in, to suffocate them, as their perfect happy lives disintegrated.

“I grew up there. It was called Kingsville, Maryland, not Wylie, Texas, but I grew up in that town. I know these people. They’re my parents, they’re my friends,” Veith said. “I wanted to keep the feeling of the claustrophobia that comes with these wide-open spaces in the suburbs.”

Today, the real Montgomery is divorced, living under a different name and working as a mental health counselor. In a way, she escaped her claustrophobic life after all.

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