How 'Indecent Proposal' influenced Renée Zellweger's Netflix series 'What/If'

When the trailer for the new Netflix series What/If was released earlier this month, nearly every headline on the internet used some variation of the same description: "Renée Zellweger makes an indecent proposal."

In the pilot episode to the neo-noir thriller, Zellweger's cutthroat power broker Anne Montgomery offers to invest millions in a startup company if the young woman (Jane Levy) who runs it allows her a night with her husband (Blake Jenner). So the comparisons to the 1993 film Indecent Proposal (in which Robert Redford makes Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore a similar proposition) were inevitable, and Zellweger is not mad at them.

In fact, the Oscar-winning actress says the show's creator Mike Kelley (Revenge) referenced the movie when they first met on it. "He was missing the idea that you explore something that's socially relevant [in something that's] about choices and consequence. So he wanted to do something that was in that vein. And he said, 'Let's subvert it.'"

To its credit, the series references the film in that pilot episode, taking digs at both itself and its inspiration in the process: “This whole idea was ripped out of a bad ‘90s movie,” Levy's Lisa Donovan says of Anne’s offer. “I thought it was quite decent,” Anne replies.

As Levy noted, it also merely uses that dilemma as a jumping off point. The offer comes in the first episode, and it will trigger the dramatic events of the next nine episodes.

And to Zellweger's point, the series subverts the premise, of course, by flipping the gender of the benefactor involved. Which means… Renée Zellweger is the new Robert Redford?

"Every girl should be Robert Redford," she laughed.

What/If premieres Friday on Netflix. Watch the trailer:

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