Mermaids Get A New Look in Freeform’s ‘Siren’

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, and now mermaids. Freeform is taking their own spin on the mythological creature in Siren, where a small Washington town’s dark and genocidal past comes back with a vengeance from the deep.

As a perpetual Thalassophobe (scared sh*tless of the deep blue sea), Siren presented me with a terrifying landscape of creatures from unknown environments, whose instincts are to be more feared than the Great White. However, these same chilling harbingers of death allow the audience to empathize with them on a human level. I have to give major respect to Sibongile Mllambo and Eline Powell, who play Donna and Ryn respectably. They do a remarkable job of portraying the “otherworldly-ness” of their species. To demonstrate characters that are both naive AND predatory due to their ranking in nature’s hierarchy, is testament to their skills as actresses. But what makes this season worthy of a quick binge session is just how close to disturbing the narrative becomes.


Siren follows marine biologists Maddie Bishop (Fola Evans-Akingbola) and Ben Pownall (Alex Roe) as they the discover their town has an intimately horrific connection to real-life mermaids. With their family and friends hovering close, we see them fight off a military conspiracy, paths of vengeance, and dark secrets that threaten to harm everyone they love. With the help of their new and mysterious friend Ryn, they hope to understand one another better while also fending off those who wish to cause the mermaids harm.

This first season surprised me, because while it was clearly limited by their network’s budget and “family-friendly” vibe, it was violent, uncomfortable, and just downright creepy. There were bone-crunching transformation scenes, forced laboratory experimentation, and a sexual assault that quickly found justice. All of this is not something I would have thought would share time slots with The Fosters or Pretty Little Liars. Not that these other shows don’t touch on very important and often difficult subject matters, but Siren definitely explores themes that are much darker and at times, a bit topsy-turvy than the most recent Freeform products. Said themes are hard to face at times.


The fight scenes were a bit cheap I will admit, and the editing and acting weren’t SPECTACULAR. However, Siren makes up for it with its sheer will to freak you out. It’s not a show that I can compare easily to anything else on television at the moment. The closest things I can think of are Fringe and The X-Files. If those sci-fi shows are up your alley, you might want to take a look at Siren.

I look forward to Season 2 hopefully exploring the origins of mermaids; amping up the action couldn’t hurt either (if they manage to fix up the battle edits). I’m not particularly interested in investing time in “General Hospital But With Fish People”, you know? Less drama, more thriller please.

Season 1 of Siren is out and ready to binge on Freeform now.

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  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

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