V.C. Andrews’ Ruby Review: Twin Wars, Voodoo Queens, & Mean Teens!

We got backstabbing, sex, shocking family secrets, rags to riches, and a little incest for spice.

Oh yes, Fanatics, the wildly entertaining collaborative forces of V.C. Andrews and Lifetime are back for another backwoods saga, and bloody hell, for better or worse, so is TV Fanatic with its coverage. So much for cancel culture, am I right?

Lifetime has taken on The Landrys Series with V.C. Andrews’ Ruby.

Sweet Ruby

After the experience covering The Casteel Series (Heaven, Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise, and Web of Dreams) credit where it’s due, Ruby was tame in comparison.

Sure, she has the evil stepmother who put her in an asylum, a twin sister who made her life hell, a dead grandmother, a grandfather who sold children, and a half-brother she has the hots for — but for V.C. Andrews? Eh, Calliou is more offensive.

The film stars Raechelle Banno as Ruby (and Karina Banno as Giselle). And both of these ladies are rather fabulous and oddly reminiscent of Chicago PD‘s Marina Squerciati. Their emotive expressions are all so similar that I would be here for a film with those three as sisters, but I digress.

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As with most sagas, this one kickstarted in the Bayou with Ruby and her Grand-Mère played by the Naomi Judd happily living in hillbilly squalor.

You have to give it to the hillbilly sort in these series, they don’t have much, but they are proud people who don’t mind their way of life. It is why abruptly ripping them from the swamps to start over in mansions in obscure upper-class communities often leads to some bizarre results.

Well, that and the incest. The incest totally makes it weird.

Grand-Mère was that b*tch. The woman was a spiritual healer who practiced a bit of voodoo, took care of the community around her, doted on Ruby, and kicked her scheming-ass, drunken husband out of the house. It’s enough to garner some respect.

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Of course, she also was a woman who held more tea than the Boston Harbor and never considered spilling any of this valuable information until she was ready to croak.

Because, of course, she died. What is with this series and killing off all the moms and grandmothers? Between that and the evil stepmother types and wicked female relatives of all ages, it’s starting to smell like inherent misogyny or unresolved mommy issues.

Freud would’ve had a blast with these series.

All Ruby wanted to do was sell her art and bone her half-brother. She didn’t ask for much, but then everything started going to hell when Grand-Mère warned of the potential inbred repercussions of Ruby absorbing the fruit of the poisonous D.

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It makes zero sense that they all have this awareness of the type of heat they face as swamp people and Bayou Cajuns but reinforce the sterotypes.

“The Poors” living around the swamp battle all of these stereotypes, but instead of giving each other a fighting chance of dismantling them, they screw each other over with family secrets.

Do you know when it’s a good time to tell your granddaughter that her boyfriend is her brother? Before he becomes her boyfriend!

Grand-Mère spent months giving cryptic messages about why Ruby shouldn’t be dating the wealthier boy from the well-to-do family from the other side of town instead of telling her the truth that his father banged her mother and he was born.

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Cut to the chase, Granny! The longer she held off telling Ruby the truth, the deeper Ruby and Paul the Cajun Cutie fell in love.

And that’s what led to one of the most awkward moments ever when Ruby told Paul the truth about their relationship to one another.

Paul shrugged it off; he knows that they’re technically siblings and that everyone kept this secret from them, but he has simply elected to ignore it and proceeded to jam his tongue down her throat.

Horny young boys, am I right? They’ll screw anything and anyone to get their rocks off, including family members.

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On the long list of things teen boys will go through to get into a girl’s pants, we have Birdboxing their way through a glaring truth to why they shouldn’t be playing hide the pickle with their current interest.

Oh, Mr. “No One Has to Know!” But kid, YOU KNOW. She knows. Unfortunately, the audience now knows; she’s your gosh damn sister!

Stop sounding creepy and demented like the sexual deviant you are.

I suppose we can forgive Paul for all the blood leaving one head for the other because, after the revelation of that brand-new information, his priorities should’ve been consulting with his father about the clusterf*ck that is their family tree.

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Screw sexytimes, give me answers, dammit!

We’re not supposed to view the Cajun Cutie as problematic, though, so let’s move on to Gran’père’s evil, decrepit arse and how he literally sells his flesh and blood for booze.

What the entire f*ck? As it stands, poor Gabrielle had two children she birthed taken away from her, and she died before she could raise Ruby herself. How awful is that?

It also makes you wonder what the story is there. Did Gabrielle fall in love with Tate, and they had Paul, but he whisked him away from her because they were from two different worlds?

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Did Tate assault her somehow, or did Gran’père put her up to getting pregnant by Tate for some money? What’s the story of how Paul came to be?

We’re so accustomed to women having the upper hand, maintaining custody of their children now, but that wasn’t always the case. Somehow, Paul ended up with his father, and that was the end of it.

Knowing Gran’père, he got a price for that exchange, too. He would’ve sold Ruby to the Dumas or someone else if he got his grubby hands on her. It speaks volumes that he already gave Gisselle away before Ruby even came out.

It doesn’t typically take that long for someone to bear their second child during a twin-birth. Nina confirmed as much when she said that the butler knew about Ruby even when Pierre didn’t. But I guess he figured that was none of his business, so he kept his mouth shut outside of gossiping to the other house staff, like a true king.

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Grand-Mère was right about the Landry women and their cracked ability to choose decent men. Gabrielle’s love life was downright tragic, twice over, and Grand-Mère chose that conniving drunkard but didn’t have the sense to work some roots and end his worthless ass.

Maybe if she had, he wouldn’t have shown out the second she died. Grand-Mère’s body wasn’t even cold yet, and Gran’père was already chaining Ruby to the bed and arranging to set her with a pedophile who wanted to rape her before he forked over the money.

Was Rum that expensive? Did whiskey taste that good where Gran’père risked it all on the regular for it? Was there no moonshine around he could barter for with normal things like gator meat or healing stones or something?

The only downside to Ruby cracking him in the head to escape is finding out later from Cajun Paul that the old bat survived the ordeal.

Paul got information from the man for a bottle of Jack and some pocket lint, so why couldn’t Paul give Gran’père a barrel of booze in exchange for Ruby, and they could’ve lived their days in incestual bliss in New Orleans?

Speaking of New Orleans and ugh, men, Ruby showing up at the Dumas house with the clothes on her back and Giselle’s face was wild. No one would react well to that shocker.

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Beau was chill about the whole thing. Giselle spazzed out, which wasn’t a surprise, and Daphne gave us the soap-opera ice queen goodness. At one point, it seemed as if she would break out into some rendition of Mrs. White’s “Flames on the side of my face” speech from Clue.

Pierre was living his best life. The man was over the moon, and later, after witnessing all of Giselle’s antics, the man was probably thrilled to have “the good twin” to balance out all the shallow, bougie, privileged foolishness happening under his roof with the likes of Daphne and Giselle.

But again, we had Ruby and her lack of priorities. She got so wrapped up in her Mean Girl Twin, Beau’s Kennedy good looks, and having a legitimate roof to live under and an actual wardrobe that she didn’t ask questions or get to the bottom of things.

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Her grandmother told her that her father bought her twin and took Giselle home with him since Daphne couldn’t bear kids, and she never thought to ask her father about that. It’s worth a conversation, no?

Does that mean he was comfortable leaving Gabrielle, a woman he claimed he had feelings for, alone in the Bayou childless without speaking to her again? I mean, that’s effed up! Did he even know that she died?

Ruby didn’t consider any of that before she jumped into calling him “Daddy.” She was too happy to have a father who cared about her and showered her with affection.

They had a connection anyway since he was the guy who purchased her paintings before he even knew of whom they belonged. Pierre moved Ruby into the home in the blink of an eye, content to have his happy family regardless of how Daphne, Giselle, or the town thought.

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But he was aloof enough to throw her in the deep end with his conniving wife and spoiled, bratty daughter without considering the ramifications of his choices on them and Ruby.

Giselle was a nightmare. She was the queen of mean, and there wasn’t a single moment where her time spent with Ruby felt genuine. You could understand her feeling territorial and displaced as all the attention went to the mysterious new sister, but she took things too far all the time.

The constant jabs about her upbringing in a swamp were bad enough. It also sucked that Daphne’s story she concocted to explain Ruby’s sudden appearance consisted of portraying Cajuns and Bayou folk as money-hungry hoodlums, criminals, and uncivilized savages.

I mean, in this case, some of Ruby’s family fit the bill. I’m looking at you, Gramps. However, that’s not the point, you know?

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But the other mean girl pranks Giselle played on Ruby were unnecessary and harsh. The bit at the sleepover, which allowed the boys to take photos of Ruby topless, was gross on so many levels.

And it was disturbing how Giselle, the randy twin, who was allowed to be loose, wonton, drunken, and disorderly at every given turn, escaped criticism by the prissy Daphne. In the same household where Ruby’s Cajun upbringing had everyone calling her promiscuous and unladylike.

Did Daphne choose not to see Giselle’s drunkenness and Rolodex of pretty boys with jawlines that could cut glass, or what?

The majority of the time, Ruby got blamed for the crap Giselle did. I bet she quickly regretted all the years she spent wanting a sibling. Welcome to Sibling Land, Ruby. It sucks!

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But Giselle had to know that everything she did was fodder for her mother to pull the ultimate move of having Ruby institutionalized.

It speaks volumes that the staff at the house hated Giselle so much that after Nina specifically told Ruby about the serious ramifications of getting involved with Mama Dede and her voodoo, she took Ruby right on over to have a curse put on her twin.

Nina knew what she was doing; she just didn’t want the guilt to fall on her. Nina had been lowkey plotting for years for Giselle to get hers, and the second the car accident happened, she threw her hands up as if to imply that Ruby should’ve heeded her warnings, and that was none of her business.

Ma’am, you suggested it and took Ruby to Mama Dede yourself!

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They weren’t holding back on some of the black magic, voodoo, and roots getting worked. Hell, even the sweet sex worker, Annie, Ruby met on her way to New Orleans and later on the street corner gave Ruby a black cat’s neckbone for good luck.

I mean, where does a girl get one of those, assuming no cats are harmed in the production of the good luck charm?

I, too, could use some good fortune.

However, I draw the line at sticking my hand into boxes with angry hissing snakes and all.

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Ruby’s solution to deal with her sister’s antics was unorthodox, but she maybe shouldn’t have tempted the fates when it led to a car crash that left Giselle’s boy toy dead and her paralyzed.

It was boneheaded, among other things, but she had all the moxie in the world when she escaped the mental institution Daphne placed her in and marched in the house with the gown still on to embarrass the hell out of Daphne in front of her snooty friends.

How was Daphne able to do that without Pierre knowing is beyond me. Where is Pierre the majority of the time, anyway? When he’s not smiling fondly at Ruby or crying in his brother’s room, you barely see him.

The guy wasn’t there even when he was there. He had absent, aloof, checked out father down to a science, that one.

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Ruby did meet her uncle Jean while she was in the psych ward. It’s too bad she didn’t make a strong enough impression to talk the well-dressed man into escaping with her, especially since hightailing it out of the looney bin a few decades ago apparently was a piece of cake.

I’ve had a harder time getting out of bed, so how many mentally-ill people are roaming the streets of New Orleans because of a lapse in security?

But shoutout to the guy who told Ruby how to leave. The actor milked his scene for everything that it was worth. I respect it!

We only got a little bit of information about how Pierre was jealous of his brother and caused him harm — injuring him and leading to Jean’s status in the psych facility, but there has to be more to that story, yes?

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Jean spazzed out when he found out that Ruby wasn’t Giselle, and she mentioned Pierre. What if he doesn’t deserve to be in there?

The film was lax on digging into any of the family secrets on either side of Ruby’s life, and it spent more time with her on the receiving end of Giselle or Daphne or whomever else’s ire and envy.

It also sprinkled in some romance with Beau, which will get interesting now that Paul has arrived and still insists on banging his sister.

While I appreciate the V.C. Andrews meets Riverdale and Gossip Girl vibes, we could’ve used more mystery and actual family drama and less teenage tom-foolery.

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From the sounds of matters, Ruby, at the behest of her father, is joining a disabled Giselle at some private boarding school for girls.

How Giselle will function being away from alcohol and boys is beyond me. And if the girls are away, does that mean we won’t see as much of Pierre long enough to learn his story? What about Jean?

And what will Ruby do now that she’s in a love triangle with Paul, her half-brother from the Bayou, and the charming Beau, who posed naked for her and traded Giselle in for Ruby?

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Not only did Pierre get away with not being part of his daughter’s life or helping to keep Giselle and Daphne in check, but he tasked Ruby with babysitting the sister who hates her. And Ruby, with her conscience and guilt actually feels guilty and doesn’t see how messed up that is.

Oh, joy! Yeah, there isn’t enough voodoo in the world to make this end well. But we’ll have to see.

Because the second-installment of The Landry series: V.C. Andrews’ Pearl in the Mist, airs Sunday, March 21, at 8/7c.

In the meantime, what did you guys think of this one? Is Ruby in over her head? Are her priorities questionable? Let’s discuss!

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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