The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Netflix’s “Kaleidoscope” offers a unique viewing experience

4 min read
Netflix's "Kaleidoscope" provides an alternative viewing style to spice up the heist genre.

Viewers choose a color-coded path to determine the order of the series "Kaleidoscope" on Netflix. | @netflixgeeked, Instagram


Staff Writer

“Kaleidoscope” is Netflix’s smartest move ever in terms of overall series viewership for a number of reasons. As the streaming service’s most recent heist-themed release that is sure to keep viewers up late binge-watching, “Kaleidoscope,” starring Giancarlo Esposito, Paz Vega, Rosaline Elbay, Rufus Sewell and Tati Gabrielle, is currently ranked sixth among TV series on Netflix. 

The heist drama series revolves around a big job worth around $7 billion. Each episode has several smaller stories and is the true meaning of  “a job to do a job,” said Leo Pap, the main orchestrator of the heist played by Esposito. Released on Jan. 1, the drama-filled show is being promoted on the streaming platform to attract viewers to watch something new. 

The plot, while thrilling no matter what episode you’re on, also presents an unfamiliar and unique experience by allowing viewers to start at episodes other than the pilot while still being able to understand and follow the plot. 

According to Vulture, there are “5,040 possible combinations of the seven episodes leading up to it. Rule-breakers who throw the finale (episode ‘White’) into the mix, have a mind-boggling 40,320 ways to watch Kaleidoscope.” 

Viewers can take in completing the series so that they can still make sense of the story in the end. By being set up in this way, the show expands the viewer’s ability to think more creatively while watching. 

The episodes are color labeled, which makes it easy to share with a friend how you watched the show. Even if you watch the show in a completely different order, you will both be able to make sense of it all at the end. The show attains this by filming each episode either before, during or after the heist, creating an addicting sequence of events for viewers and allowing them to replay the show in a different order. Each different sequence of episodes contains different moments of foreshadowing depending on the order.

This unconventional viewing experience elicits the question: What’s the best order to watch the show? 

Luckily, the show allows the option for a viewer to explore the different viewing routes in order to find their preferred perspective, for the order can really alter your viewing experience. For most people, it may make sense chronologically put together. I went through the episodes as Netflix listed them, starting with “Yellow” and ending with “White,” and while it was a little more confusing due to the random chronological time frames in the ordering of the episodes, it was interesting to put the pieces together in how the heist was conducted. 

The characters in the show are well-developed and are sure to leave you wanting more depending on which 35–50 minute episode the viewer is watching. Some episodes contained a satisfying end, while others took a twist and I felt betrayed, even just being in the audience—every episode felt personal. No characters felt like they were underlooked or lacking in personality or backstory, as the main crew had an equal amount of screen time. 

Additionally, the show’s cast already has an extensive resume. Esposito is best known for his roles in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” while Gabrielle has starred in several popular Netflix series such as “The 100,” “You” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” She also starred in last year’s movie, “Uncharted,” alongside Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. 

Although the show is unique and the acting is well done, some say the number of crime and heist shows may be over-saturating Netflix’s offerings.

Junior geography major Zander Loy said, “It’s interesting, but there have recently been a lot of bank robbery series in recent years such as ‘Money Heist,’ which came out with their fifth season just last year.” However, Loy also said that  “while there is some repetitiveness, ‘Kaleidoscope’ has introduced a cool spin to the entire genre.”

Though some are concerned about the prevalence of similar series, “Kaleidoscope” completely stands alone as its own show in my mind. The show wasn’t repetitive for me, as it’s a completely different story with a spin that “Money Heist” didn’t have. Every episode has a unique ending that will send you reeling in shock and excitement for the next one. It fills in some of the puzzle pieces, but also has you watching more episodes to get the final picture.

However, the new drama miniseries is not a show for everyone. Kolby Simpson, a junior business administration major who watched the order starting with the episode “Yellow,” said, “After watching the first episode (Yellow), I would say it’s really intriguing but also a little gimmicky at the same time. I can see how it’s popular now, but the craze will most likely die down within just a week.” 

If you do choose to watch this Netflix hit, you won’t feel left out, no matter what order you watch it in, as everyone ends up on the same final episode: “White.” 

Eric Garcia, the producer of “Kaleidoscope,” has called the final episode “the one canonical place … that essentially serves as the skeleton key” that holds the show together,” as he said in a New York Post article.

Overall, the show is a fantastic watch that gets you thinking outside the box. While some say it’s bandwagoning off the success of “Money Heist,” I think it stands well on its own as a minidrama.