You’ll Like It If You Already Like: The Good Wife, Scandal, Homeland…
Likely Timeslot: it’s almost impossible to guess FOX schedule at this point
Katie Holmes is back, guys! Between her guest stint on Ray Donovan, Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, upcoming Ocean’s 8, this pilot and her much talked-about romance with Jamie Foxx, our dear Joey Potter is doing great 20 years after Dawson’s Creek launched (I’m a die hard fan of Kevin Williamson’s teen drama). It makes me genuinely happy for her. Always thought she was worth better than movies nobody’s watching and unsatisfying TV roles. But let’s not forget she played Jackie Kennedy for christ’s sake! Too bad it was for a miniseries that was just okay. With Mrs Otis Regrets (or whatever name it ends up with), she’s playing a character like she’s never been offered before. We’ll see if she’s the right fit -and sometimes I felt like she wasn’t, I want her to prove me wrong- but it’s a great showcase for her talent. It’s demanding, she’s just not there to make her trademark pouty face. She starts the show undercover dressed as a sexy and trashy redneck southern gal, riding a mechanical bull! Later in the pilot, she’s drunk as fuck, performing Maniac in a karaoke bar, singing and doing sexy moves, and then pouring a bottle of water over her head, shaking her hair and spraying water like Jennifer Beals did in the movie. It’s gonna be legendary! And those scenes are reasons enough to pray for a series pickup!
With such an introduction, you probably think I will tell you this script is awesome. Not if you paid attention to the number of “stars” I gave it. Honestly, I went back and forth a lot. 3 stars or 4 stars? It was a really difficult decision to make. Overall, I enjoyed this script and I think it will make at the very least a decent pilot. It is great at introducing the central character, making us feel a diverse range of emotions regarding her actions, past and present; it’s a multi-dimensional, challenging heroine, that you don’t instantly fall in love with but that you know you want to spend more time with, to understand who she really is. She can be fun, badass -she has a military past that is very important in her backstory- and also very restrained and even cold at times. She’s all of this. And brilliant at her job. And a loving mom. And sexy as hell. It’s hard not to side with her, especially when her all world collapses. She’s definitely worth our attention. She’s a heroine of our times. The show is written, directed and produced by women. And that you can tell. It’s a fine portrait.
So what’s the problem exactly, you’re asking? Well. First, they didn’t do a great job at introducing the other characters. Her new partner in crime, Sam Gerard, is a 29 yerd-old preppy, privileged and unexperienced agent who’s mostly irritating. I have no doubt they will make him more likeable in the subsequent episodes but so far, they made it way too easy to hate him. And then there’s her husband, Larry, a handsome news reporter who’s like the perfect man any woman would want to marry, which makes him a bit bland. He’s modern but he’s too kind, even when he should be really angry at his wife. You want him to scream and go nuts, and he doesn’t. Again, with more episodes they will be able to flesh him out. There are a lot of family scenes by the way. We meet their daughters, Chelsea (13) and Catherine (8). They found the right balance between her professional life and her private one, but sometimes, I have to say I just wanted the show to be about that, and office politics, but not about her mission of the day. She has to save a known racist politician from an assassination attempt. It’s efficient, just not the best part. There’s a serialized story behind though, since the mastermind behind this is not caught in the end. He’ll be back. I remember I had the same feeling with The Good Wife when it started. As much as I liked the cases and Alicia’s relationships at the office, what I wanted the most was her scenes with her husdand and her children, at home. It’s not the only thing that made me think of The Good Wife, to be honest. And it’s both a compliment and a reproach.
From start to finish, I felt like this script was a clever mix between The Good Wife & Scandal, with a hint of Homeland since she’s doing the same job as Carrie Mathison. So, yeah, clever. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re always under the impression that you’ve already seen it before. It makes it very much predictable. Like this scene when the press is outside her home after the scandal broke. So cliché. Unavoidable, maybe. Or the one when the scandal breaks for instance: she’s right in the middle of a school fundraiser with the other moms. Or the daughter who’s harassed at school and called names because of her mother. But honestly, the most worrying part here is not the comparisons drawn with The Good Wife and Homeland. It’s the one with Scandal. The show is just about to end and it won’t leave on a good note since it’s stupid for ages now. I’m very much afraid Mrs Otis Regrets falls into the same traps. I don’t want Hezel to become as annoying and murderous as Olivia Pope. I don’t want a tiring and never-ending love triangle between Hezel, her husband and NSA’s General Moses Fallon, who’s a lot like President Grant. Been there, done that! Coincidentally, it’s also produced by Judy Smith, like Scandal, which was based on her own life! And with an Empire producer/showrunner on the team, I wouldn’t want the show to become too soapy either. I do love soaps but when they take place at the FBI -look at Quantico!- they can quickly turn into a mess.
Even though Mrs Otis Regrets have a few problems, mostly a bit predictable and déjà vu premise, it definitely has potential for the long haul and it’s a great vehicle for Katie Holmes. At some point, one character says: “The timing is all wrong. All anyone cares about right now is the sexual assault stuff.” And that’s my main concern here: is the show’s timing wrong? I’d say its timing is perfect as long as they play their cards right: it has A LOT to say about sexism in the work place, about the glass-ceiling, about being in the public eye and how much the perception is different if you’re a man or a woman, and I hope they won’t shy away from all of this, that they will embrace it and make it an important show in the process. Women deserve this.