“Deadly Illusions” is a Homoerotic Girl-Meets-Nanny Thriller That Will Leave You Asking “What”

Netflix’s Deadly Illusions has been splashed across its homepage all week, daring me to invest in the story of a romance novelist who hires a nanny and “finds that the lines between fiction and reality have started to blur.” You know how it is when you hire a nanny and the lines between fiction and reality start to blur, right? You know!!! You know when you hire a nanny and then on like day two you get writer’s block and so you smoke a fat cigar and take your NANNY to the sexy underwear palace store TO BUY HER NEW BRAS??!?!

bra store, Mary asking the store clerk to "fit my young friend here for a bra"

No ❤️

in the dressing room, Grace in a bra and Mary saying "It's so pretty!"

Grace smiling while Mary tells her "I remember when mine used to look like this"

Do note that Mary is topless in this portion of the scene

Mary and Grace looking in the mirror of the dressing room, "chuckling"

Grace pulls Mary's hand closer to her breast, while wearing a new red bra

If Netflix had wanted my attention on Deadly Illusions any earlier than when I got very sad around noon on Thursday, what they should’ve told me is that the lines between STRAIGHT and GAY will start to blur. Because my friends, they do. This is like, high camp, but also a gay movie for straight people? This is heterosexual camp. This is fan fiction but about two characters we’ve never heard of except one of them is Charlotte from Sex and the City.

Now Mary's hand is closer than before

Mary now has her hand fully on Grace's breast in the red bra

Ma’am, this is a Victoria’s Secret

But I am getting ahead of myself! We begin like so: Mary (Kristin Davis) gets all dressed up to answer the door only to find herself saddled with a $2 million dollar offer from her millennial publishers to write another book in the series that made her famous. She hasn’t written in forever, though, because she has been focused on her two unmemorable children and their backpacks, a home with dynamic indoor/outdoor space and her ambiguously creepy husband Dermont Mulroney who secretly lost all their money in some situation I could not be bothered to retain.

Now Mary must hire a nanny. Sad! Luckily she finds the perfect nanny: Grace. How old is Grace? Nobody knows. Where does she live? This, too, does not come up. We do know however that she hails from the town of “River Springs” which Mary unfortunately has not heard of. What is Grace doing with her life? This does not matter! All that matters is that Grace dresses like a sexy American Girl doll / a grown woman throwing together a last-minute slutty Alice in Wonderland costume / the student who seduces a teacher in an inappropriate boarding school movie.

in Mary's house, Mary telling Grace (in a white tennis skirt, white polo and blue sweater-vest) to follow her

Grace notices Mary’s books on the shelf. She turns to Mary, her face lit up like a Katy Perry firework and says, in absolute earnest: “I can’t believe I’m standing in the home of an actual writer!!!!” A lot of crazy-ass shit happens in this film but that was the moment when I should’ve known that things would eventually go as madly off the rails as they eventually did. Like, off the high-speed rails.

Mary in the bath and Grace leaning over her telling her to open her mouth

I have a Junior Mint for you

Grace wears her hair in a single braid that screams PLAIT, topped off with a colorful bow. She wears different color bows every day to go with her outfits. She rides a vintage bicycle to and from work with a canvas tote on her shoulder and a goddamn bell like she is on her way to be Thora Birch’s body double in Now and Then. She does magic tricks! She packs a mean picnic basket! It is always autumn! She loves Judy Blume! She massages Mary’s feet. She massages Mary’s back. She maybe (?!?!!) massages Mary’s genitals with her mouth (?!?!) which is just to say that have any of you seen Losing Alice on Apple TV? This felt like that, except with a glossy American Netflix makeover and also, worse.

Grace rubs Mary's back with a hungry look in her eyes

Somehow it is both sweater weather and topless bathing weather

Mary, meanwhile, likes to smoke cigars like someone who never smokes cigars while casting glances in Grace’s general direction and HANDWRITING AN ENTIRE NOVEL.

Also, Mary’s best friend is played by Shanola Hampton, aka Vee on Shameless, and I was personally offended that they did not hook up in the showers at the gym.

Erica at the gym pumping iron asking Mary if she's ever been attracted to a woman before

Erica looking at Mary in the gym asking if she's sure


I want to tell you more about Deadly Illusions. I want to tell you why I simultaneously insist you watch this straight gay film but also fail to recommend it. I want to tell you about a bathtub full of milk and variously colored rose petals and the complex mechanics of that specific fingerbang (I have questions!), and about someone getting scissored in the throat but I mean murdered not sex, and I guess some sort of multiple personality thing, and actually truly which parts were real?!!?!, and the complete unconcern from anybody involved in the production of this film that one single element of it make even the most remote amount of sense but I simply cannot. Have you ever tried to feed someone chili as FOREPLAY? Open your mouth, I have a ladle of honey for you and a secret past! You have to experience this absolute bananapants gay disaster for yourself. And then please come back here and tell me what was the male head at like 52:22?

In conclusion I would like to quote my final handwritten note that I took while watching this film: “water crashing into rocks ok”

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3200 articles for us.


  1. Riese, I can’t tell you how much this review made me want to groupwatch this movie – the kind of groupwatch where you’re so busy shrieking with laughter/ coming up with theories that who even knows what _any_ of the dialogue was.

    So yes, ty for this stellar review!

  2. While you mentioned all the truly bananas things in this film, my personal favorite was that on multiple occasions they establish that the scene is taking place in the morning and then for some reason it is dark outside?!?

  3. Omg you don’t need to watch the film, just read this review!! I have no idea about the head, but like is it the most confusing thing? And her smoking cigars like you smoke a cigarette. I really can’t decide if the film was genius or offensive af.

  4. This review made made me laugh harder than I have all week and I truly lost it at HANDWRITING AN ENTIRE NOVEL! Might have to finish that mediocre bottle of Syrah and watch this tomorrow

  5. as much as i dig your writing, Riese, i stopped reading above when i looked up Losing Alice plot spoilers, because this being worse than that runs me the risk of losing my currently tenuous faith in/hope for humanity.

    by which i really mean to say thank you for your service.

  6. so I read this review and knew I had to watch this movie, and what can I say?? this is the perfect review for it. I’m just….??? ??? gay question marks. I didn’t know if the acting was…like this…on purpose? I didn’t know if I liked it or not, and I am usually a highly opinionated person with very binary emotions on things…?? I just…don’t know.

  7. I watched this movie while high and I suggest this approach simply to inspire the appropriate snacking. Also it helps the movie make a little more sense.

    This review is perfect and validating. I laughed my ass off. Thank you.

  8. I watched this movie because of this review. I have not laughed so hard while simultaneously yelling at the tv “what is happening” in a long time. K Davis’ deranged smile during most of the movie had me laugh/crying!

  9. When I watched this movie, there was one line from your review that I kept repeating. “This is heterosexual camp.” Because it really, truly was. There was kissing and sex between two women, but it was very male gaze-y. It was like if a cis-dude film grad got hired by Lifetime to make a movie but then he ate too many edibles and fell asleep to a John Waters movie before the first day of filming. The script was written by an AI (who was fixated on creating the perfect supportive husband) and the editors had just gotten mastery of a 2011 version of iMovie.

    It doesn’t matter how much I admire or am attracted to someone – I will NOT put on their wet bathing suit bottoms.

  10. “She rides a vintage bicycle to and from work with a canvas tote on her shoulder and a goddamn bell like she is on her way to be Thora Birch’s body double in Now and Then.” this is poetry tbh

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