Defending Jacob: Season 1 (2020)

Season 1
Defending Jacob

Critics Consensus

Despite outstanding work from Michelle Dockery and Chris Evans, Defending Jacob stretches its source material too thin, undermining its own rich tension with too much melodramatic padding.



Critic Ratings: 60


Audience Score

User Ratings: 373

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Air date: Apr 24, 2020
Air date: Apr 24, 2020
Air date: Apr 24, 2020
Air date: Apr 30, 2020
Air date: May 8, 2020
Air date: May 15, 2020
Air date: May 22, 2020

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Critic Reviews for Defending Jacob Season 1

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (18)

You've seen it before, perhaps, but don't let that stop you. "Defending Jacob..." is gripping enough in its own way, despite some of the familiar moves, and the acting is consistently fine.

Apr 23, 2020 | Full Review…

For a show so devoted to stringing you along for answers, "Defending Jacob" doesn't leave you with much once it's over.

Apr 22, 2020 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

The high-profile names involved and impressive production are what really separate it from your standard basic cable crime dramas and not necessarily the content itself.

Apr 15, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Defending Jacob suffers greatly from its format, stretching 120 minutes of story max into eight hours of episodic television.

Apr 24, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The ambiguous ending to the eight-part series is a bit frustrating, but it sets the stage for a possible second season.

May 20, 2020 | Full Review…

A great Apple TV + production. [Full review in Spanish]

Jul 13, 2020 | Full Review…

[Martell] epitomizes the bullied teens of the post-Columbine era, social outcasts that seek refuge in violent video games, playing out fantasies on dark websites and tortured by their peers on social media.

Jul 10, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A good show whose premise ends up being secondary as more profound (and relevant) themes are explored. [Full review in Spanish].

Jun 19, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Defending Jacob is one of the best television shows in years. It's remarkably gripping, full of clever twists and turns, and has absolutely amazing character work on display.

Jun 6, 2020 | Full Review…

The show can drag a bit, but the performances are absolutely great.

Jun 1, 2020 | Rating: B | Full Review…

It's a mixture of courtroom drama, murder mystery, and psychological thriller, and if it sometimes falls back on familiar genre-ish cliches, the show can boast some fine performances and possesses the critical ingredient of watchability.

May 26, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Defending Jacob is a crime thriller mini-series that will certainly keep you guessing about what actually happened. A little bit of a slow burn, but worth it in the end.

May 22, 2020 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Defending Jacob: Season 1

  • Jul 28, 2020
    Defending Jacob from start to finish was a riveting, gripping and a tragic exprience. Everything from character work, the show's explicit details and exploration of this murder mystery but in a character-driven way and top-notch acting was fascinating and can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with classic character driven murder mysteries like - Prisoners and Mystic River. Defending Jacob may seem like a slow burn series but its pacing is definitely on point. The series is so focused on each perspective in the family that it takes its time building each one from their start to their conclusions. It's also so focused on how each perspective of the family is struggling with the permanent effects of media and people etc., and explores every aspect of these effects with explicit attention to detail. All of that adding with the 2 separate time frames that finally meet at the final episode of the show, this elevates the tension and keeps you thinking and thought-provoked the whole runtime. so, the show never drags or never feels boring or rushed and it's because of all that built up tension it establishes from the very start. Each episode is a cliffhanger, where the show gives you alot of information sometimes but prevents the most relevant ones from you that you get to discover in the second to last episode, which is surely the best episode in the whole season and the most suspenseful due to all that build up in the previous episodes. The problem with the show however is the feeling of ambiguity it always tries to establish, especially in the latest episode. The balance between the evidences leading to Jacob being the murderer and the evidences leading to him being innocent was good and somehow made sense, but when you get to think of it and finally come to a conclusion to any of the two circumstances (whether he's innocent or the murderer) something always doesn't add up and prevents you from reaching your satisfied conclusion. For e.g: in the second to last episode, we learn that Jacob was hiding this story he wrote all this time along until it was discovered in court by Derek Yoo. Describing all of the specific, true details of the murder in this story surely makes Jacob a suspect, but how is it possible that he is a suspect when there was nothing discovered of DNA, Fibres, or hair cells on the victim's body? Same inconsistency happens when you try to think of Jacob as an innocent, how is it also possible that he is innocent when he wrote all of the specific details and even the smallest detail that was described by someone near the park that only someone near the park could have heard? This ambiguity at first seems normal but when you get back to discussing it using all the possible evidences that was given, something doesn't add up because of a small inconsistency in the logic of the discoveries. It works but sometimes thinking of it makes it fall abit flat. I hope this ambiguity made more sense and that they would add one major clue that would make the ambiguity completed and truly hold us in the middle of both conclusions. However, the character of the mother may sometimes feel unnatural and may not resonate with alot of mothers watching the show, but Michelle Dockery's wide array of emotions and acting skills brilliantly makes her character seem like a mother that is morally and mentally confused between staying loyal to her family and knowing the truth about her son. In the end, no matter how loyal and loving we can be to our most loved ones, till when will we continue running away from the truth?
  • Jul 26, 2020
    Aunque cuenta con un final bastante confuso, ha mucho suspenso, tragedia y actuaciones sólidas.
  • Jul 22, 2020
    Bine jucat dar usor incoerent la final
  • Jul 15, 2020
    My problem so far is the son withholding information from parents who want to believe he's innocent. Tell them what happened then let them fight for you. The ambiguity ruins the show but the acting is great.
  • Jul 14, 2020
    After the viewer reaches the epic finale of Defending Jacob with a twist that was not coming, Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell giving us very realistic performances, will say this: Was this worth watching? Absolutely.
  • Jul 09, 2020
    Slow. Act 3 was 1 episode which was disconcerting. Plenty of nuance in all the wrong places. Also, Evans and the cast gives a solid performance but I don't believe in their family dynamic in the slightest. Felt like a play and I don't think it knew what it wanted to be in a thriller or drama.
  • Jul 08, 2020
    This show is a must see! Not only does the story make you go through an emotional rollercoaster but it keeps you second guessing and coming back for more! Absolutely hooked!
  • Jul 01, 2020
    Kept me excited for the next episode!
  • Jul 01, 2020
    I went to watch the series with the purpose of seeing Chris Evans act in something other than Marvel, and, I say with great pleasure, that I was very surprised. I was surprised by the performance of Chris (and the other actors) and the series itself. I haven't read the book on which the series is based (I intend to read), so what I'm going to say here is just about my view of the series. We have a family of three here: Andy Barber, his wife Laurie and his son Jacob. Their lives change completely when a boy from school, where the couple's son studies, is murdered; and Jacob becomes the prime suspect. Chris Evans plays the character Andy Barber, who is a lawyer and father of Jacob. Throughout the series, we see the consequences of Jacob's accusation on his character and his battle to prove that his son is innocent, something that he does not allow to be shaken until the last moment. We were able to feel his concern and his incredulous look at the things that began to surround his son. He is a father who will do anything for him, until he visits his biggest traumas. We were able to feel it all thanks to the beautiful performance of Chris Evans. Michelle Dockery's character is named Laurie Barber, and she's my favorite. Her plot involves much more psychological drama, physical fatigue and isolation from society. The consequences of any case involving your child move a lot throughout your life. While, in the father's view, we have what happens in the investigation. In the mother's view, we have what happens in social life. We see throughout the series that the character is regressing physically and psychologically. We see in her vision how people treat her, how the media sees her and how her friends and family see her after what happened. It starts to wear out a lot, because of doubt, regret and worry. Michelle Dockery's interpretation is incredible, the various looks she gives in various scenes, says a lot about what she is feeling and thinking. All characters are well developed, well interpreted by their actors; but Laurie stands out a lot more for me. Jaeden Martell plays Jacob brilliantly. Your character walks between the strange and the normal. He makes us doubt our own thoughts without using too many lines, or expressions. While he appears to be just a normal boy, there are some dubious attitudes that make us question his innocence. A complex and layered character. Defending Jacob is a series of drama, suspense, full of wonderful performances and that makes us question the following: how far would you go for your family or someone you love? NOTE: The ending did not please many people, but if we think that the series focuses on the family and their relationships in such situations, the series is perfect.
  • Jun 29, 2020
    Incredible show. 10/10. Writing, acting, plot, is all nail-biting. Chemistry between the actors is top notch.

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