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Kristen Bell as Anna, Tom Riley as Neil and Samsara Leela Yett as Emma in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window.COLLEEN E. HAYES/NETFLIX/Netflix

We’re on a roll. We’re trucking along, you might say. The other day this column encouraged you to watch The Afterparty on AppleTV+, mainly because it’s a hoot, a send-up of the murder-mystery formula with a lot of laughs.

It’s high time that some of the popular genres that have become so familiar – we’ve seen so many of them in the pandemic era – were spoofed. And now is the time to do it, fatigued as we are by restrictions, isolation and the winter weather. Some people have returned to baking bread and showing off the results on social media. One suspects that creates more enemies than new friends. What we all need is a good laugh, or at least a giggle.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (streams on Netflix) aims for the giggles and if you’ve watched a bunch of Netflix thrillers you will perhaps find it a rather pointed satire. But you don’t need to be a fiend for Netflix thrillers to be in on the joke. If you’ve consumed the books (or movie versions) The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train, you’ll be primed for the poking-fun that’s rampant here.

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Kristen Bell plays Anna, an utterly unreliable narrator. From the start, her monologue is like a comedy sketch. She asks herself questions such as, “Why do I talk in a British accent?” Then she consumes a very large glass of red wine. She consumes wine all day, while remaining oddly sober. Maybe it’s the pills that sober her up, who knows? She stares out the window daily. Often she looks at her ex-husband’s Instagram feed.

To ensure you understand that the series is a pastiche, we see Anna reading a novel titled The Woman Across the Lake. And the story of how her daughter died takes us into a rather scathing satire of the profiler/serial-killer genre. That part isn’t so funny, it’s there to emphasize that we accept stereotypes and tropes with appalling blitheness.

Things really get under way when new neighbours move in across the street. Who could it be now? Why, it’s a handsome British widower, the strapping Neil (Tom Riley) with his young daughter. Anna begins fantasizing about the new chap. Here we’re into a send-up of Hallmark romance movies.

You might think Anna’s true love interest is handyman Buell (Cameron Britton), who appears to have been repairing her mailbox for about two years, just to be near her. But, no. Anna’s fixated on Neil and keeps making casseroles for him. Sometimes this doesn’t work because she forgets to wear oven mitts and is obliged to sit, looking out the window, with packs of frozen food on her hands. When she does manage to deliver a casserole, she drops it in the street, in fright. Why? Well, because she suffers from ombrophobia, a fear of rain. Man, this lady’s got problems.

If you’ve consumed the books (or movie versions) The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train, you’ll be primed for the poking-fun that’s rampant in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window.COLLEEN E. HAYES/NETFLIX/Netflix

And then, of course, comes a twist. Handsome neighbour has a girlfriend, perky flight-attendant Lisa (Shelley Hennig), who, Anna decides, is shifty and mean. Well, something bad happens to Lisa. Anna is on the case.

Listen, at this point we’re barely two episodes into an eight-part series (30 minutes each) and I’m only giving you spare details. There’s a lot more going on here.

You do need a certain temperament to savour The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. It’s a high-wire act, this series; part fantasy, farce and satire. You could say it’s both spoof and a discussion of the many ways to conceive of the thriller, especially the genre of female-centric thrillers about women who spy on others and either envy or loathe the lives they see. Few belly laughs then, but at times a rip-roaring attack on the clichés used to define such women in thriller fiction.

The cast is uniformly good, and Kristen Bell has, as universally acknowledged, excellent comic chops. The series rests on her shoulders and she plays Anna with gusto that’s admirable. She’s doing a deadpan parody of a character seen so often now that we feel we know her intimately. Comedy is, as ever, subjective, and this series isn’t for everyone, but it matters as a crazy-spoof in crazy times and will delight some of you.

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