It's not something many of us would like to linger on for too long, purely because the truth would terrify us, but ever wondered how easy it would be for someone to gain access to your life?
How very open and vulnerable does social media make our lives? Is your Instagram account public? Even if it isn’t, how many followers do you have who you’ve never met? Have you added a location tag to that very aesthetic brunch you just had? Or tagged your very visible, sociable and trusting circle of friends? Had a morning routine that you humble-bragged about on your IG Stories? Then, it turns out, very open indeed. It wouldn't take much for the wrong person, an intelligent improvisor and manipulator of the highest degree, someone who had mentally stored every last detail of your very open life, to walk straight in. In Chloe, BBC One and Amazon Prime Video’s six-part psychological thriller series, that person is Becky Green.
Created, written and directed by Sex Education’s Alice Seabright and starring The Crown’s Erin Doherty as the insidious Becky, alongside Brit actors from Gangs of London, The Serpent and Poldark, the first episode opens with a familiar sight: a thumb flicking through a feed. It belongs to Becky, a woman living in a small flat in Bristol, caring for her mother who has early-onset dementia. In bed, while outside having a cigarette and then during breakfast she obsessively scrolls through the picture-perfectly curated Instagram account of the titular woman, Chloe Fairbourne. We see photos of Chloe poolside in a far-flung destination; laughing with her inner circle of attractive and creative friends; gazing lovingly into the eyes of her handsome partner at a fancy dinner party; smiling with her stylish best friend at a picnic. What initially seems like an unhealthy online habit – what we assume is a little window into another life, giving Becky a fleeting escape from the responsibilities of her difficult situation – is quickly revealed to be something much darker.
Becky works as a temp, lying to employees that she "likes the variety" but instead using her proximity to clients' lives to shrewdly observe, eavesdrop and then memorise influential individual names and exploit their buzzy calendar highlights to her own advantage: a fancy party here, a gallery opening there.
One day, stalking Chloe’s Instagram, Becky sees wave after wave of brokenhearted tributes and she comes to the realisation that Chloe has died. And now it isn’t aimless fun; she is using her quick thinking and deviousness as part of a crystal-clear agenda and it’s to infiltrate Chloe’s life to find out what happened. Yes, it’s shudder-inducing – even more so when you realise the ease with which she is able to do so.
The first to be enveloped in her plan is Chloe’s best friend, Livia. Becky 'bumps into' her first at a gallery opening, inventing an enviable alter ego, Sasha Miles: a high-flying events exec with powerful art connections who just moved back from Japan – someone who wouldn't look amiss in Chloe's attractive group of friends. After Becky stages another serendipitous meeting at Livia's weekly yoga class, plus much flattery and feigning of common interests, Livia begins to introduce Becky to the rest of the circle. The story intensifies and by the end of the episode we’ve hurtled towards a huge, stomach-churning twist.
Erin Doherty is absolutely stellar as Becky in her Talented Mr Ripley-esque manoeuvres, especially the sudden switches in her demeanour to suit the situation: from affable and disarming to meek and invisible. Her character plays upon the very relatable human trait that most of us would be too polite to point out we didn’t know someone at an event or be swift to second-guess our own memory. After all, it's easier to assume familiarity than risk embarrassment.
Dystopian shows like Black Mirror have already brought attention to how much our reliance on technology can damage our lives, imploring us to reassess what good there is to be had in sharing every aspect of our existence – whether it's the impact of a culture of constant comparison on our mental health, or much worse. Chloe operates on this same suspicious and overcautious fear, and for good reason. News reports tell us stories every day of how social media or dating apps are being used to stalk and harm women.
Tackling grief, secrets and identity and issuing a reminder that even picture-perfect lives on Instagram are merely highlights reels, it really is enough to make you think twice about how much we share with the outside world about our inner lives. Anyone else putting their profiles on private?
Chloe is out on BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video on 6th February