Netflix’s bingeable Clickbait is exactly as advertised. It is a guilty pleasure you know you shouldn’t have indulged in but did nonetheless. Netflix loves these sorts of sudsy murder mysteries. The Kristin Davis led Deadly Illusions was easily one of the campiest examples of this. What secrets lurks behind family walls and forced smiles are often the focus of these sorts of stories. It is no different in Clickbait. Do you ever really know the person you love? The engrossing series keeps you watching and guessing clear to the end. Adrian Grenier is well cast as a seemingly ordinary man who might hide all kinds of dark impulses from his family.
Clickbait opens with a family birthday dinner. Brother and sister Nick(Adrian Grenier) and Pia(Zoe Kazan), along with his wife Sophie(Betty Gabriel) and children, are celebrating their mother’s birthday. It’s the picture of a relatively typical happy family. There is tension about the selected gift, and obviously, Sophie, Nick, and Pia have some issues, but it is all fairly standard stuff. Until the ,following day a video surfaces of Nick that leads them all down a dark path.
Nick has been beaten and is holding signs up that read he abuses women. When the video gets 5 million views, he will die. Things escalate fast, and before the first episode is even over, the video hits 5 million. Luckily, the series doesn’t stop there. Throughout the remaining 8 episodes, we see exactly what Nick did to get himself in such a predicament.
We learn what could have happened to Nick from many different perspectives. A reporter, Pia and Sophie’s perception of events and most interestingly a woman named Emma who caims to be having an affair with him. There are so many misdirects along the way. Extramaital affairs and hidden secrets all contributed to the drama. They were false flags though. In the end, there was just a decent family man, a desperate housewife, and a toxic man who protected her. Who did this to Nick, and why are only half of the equation. Here are all your biggest questions answered.
Was Nick Brewer an abuser and bad guy?
Clickbait doesn’t drag things out too much regarding Nick’s fate. At the end of episode 2, the police find Nick’s dead body. He is dead but who did it and why get answered over the rest of the episodes. Nick was supposedly having affairs with multiple women. In episode 4 Emma Beesly claims to have had an intense relationship with Nick. She has memories of a steamy love affair that never happened. She was another victim of the killer who ensnared the unstable Emma into a fake relationship that became so real she confused online life with real life. As we find out later, the truth is far more convoluted.
Was Nick Having An Affair With Emma?
Despite Emma’s assistance that she had a physical affair with Nick she finally admitted to Nick’s son Nathan she had never met him. The entire affair was fiction. Dawn had used a voice modulated to talk to her on the phone and they communicated through texts and chats. The memories of them having sex was a delusion and the photo she had of the two of them at the beach was photoshopped by Dawn and mailed to her along with the gifts fake Nick/Danny/Dawn sent her. She was run off of the road by Ed earlier because he was trying to keep her from exposing Dawn’s extracurricular activities. Emma was in love with who she thought was her boyfriend and it’s highly possible Sarah and Nick wouldn’t have been the only people to be endangered by Dawn’s hobby.
Who kidnapped Nick in Clickbait?
Here’s where things get complicated. Nick was taken by the brother of a woman who committed suicide after Nick broke off an online affair. The brother, Simon believed Nick’s callus online behavior was the cause of his sister’s pain and her death. As a result, Simon and his friend kidnapped Nick on his way to work and put the video on the internet. Although he did beat him up, Simon didn’t kill Nick. Simon released Nick after figuring out Nick wasn’t the person Sarah had a relationship with and was later brought in for questioning by the police. In one final plot twist, we learn the killer was Nick’s friend Dr. Dawn’s husband, Ed.
The final episode of Clickbait reveals Dr. Dawn(Becky Lish) was a colleague of Nick’s who he turned to for advice regarding Sophie’s affair. Dr. Dawn also helped NIck set up his computer and thus had access to all kinds of personal information and photos including the ones she used to set up the fake profiles on all the dating apps. She was a bored lonely woman with more time on her hands than morality. Her husband left her alone too often and so she decided to use all of Nick’s personal details to catfish tons of women online. She went so far as to photoshop pictures and use voice modulaters to have conversations with the women she was tricking.
She dove deep into the scheme by tricking women into believing they were having an affair with Nick. Evidently she had been doing this for years. Dr. Dawn was one committed liar and had zero qualms about duping innocent women. She really should have got a better hobby. Take up pottery, cooking, moonshine distilling. Just about anything would have been better than identity theft. One of the women Dr. Dawn tricked was Sarah and her suicide led to Nick’s kidnapping and viral video.
When Ed discovered what his wife had been doing he took drastic steps to cover it up. Ed was far more concerned with covering up her misdeeds than protecting any of the women. After the video was uploaded and Nick was freed he went straight to Dr. Dawn to confront her. He figured out she had been posing as him because the dead woman’s brother knew details about him that only Dawn knew. When Nick threatened to expose her, Ed killed him and then took even more drastic steps to cover that up as well. The couple dumped the body, ran Emma Beasley off the road, and almost killed Nick’s son Kai who had gone to an address of some photos he found of his father online. Luckily the police figure all of this out and Kai is rescued and Ed is killed in a standoff.
In the end Clickbait wasn’t about the infidelity of NIck or Sophie. Nick never strayed. He was faithful to Sophie until the end. Sophie had an affair but it ultimately didn’t matter. It wasn’t anything mundane like cheating, it was a complex scam perpetrated by a short sighted woman and a man who would do anything to protect their image as a couple. He was a decent guy who trusted the wrong person.
The surprisingly easy watch has a lot to say about social media, doxxing, and online culture. Right after the police find a key bit of evidence, everyone in the crowd records Sophie’s shock. Well-meaning but still creepy viewers send emojis conveying their support for her. Rather than respect her privacy, her emotions are on display for everyone to comment on. It is easy to get caught up in the fever of a Twitter fight with the facade of anonymity. It is far to easy to get intimate details about you with a simple click. In our interconnected world you may feel safe behind the screen, but that same space can be used to expose so much.
Clickbait is addictive because it is designed that way. Catchy titles, silly goat videos, and sensationalized accusations all make for internet fodder. It’s the lure for a ravenous consumer who never gets enough. Beware what you believe though. Fake news and faked identities are easy. Probably the biggest takeaway is get a healthy hobby. Clickbait is on Netflix right now.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.