“The Broad Squad” (ABC) pilot preview: the cop show you didn’t even know you wanted!

BroadSquadABC

Written & produced by Bess Wohl. Executive Produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Chuck) & Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries, Hart Of Dixie), Len Goldstein, Aaron Kaplan (The Mysteries Of Laura, GCB) & Alexandra Lydon. Directed by Coky Giedroyc. For ABC, ABC Studios, Fake Empire & Kapital Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In 1978, the graduating class of Boston’s first female patrol officers was dubbed “The Broad Squad” by the local press. Eileen, Molly, Joanne & Lisa arrived at a tumultuous time in Boston’s history, marked by corruption within the police force and a heightened organized crime presence in the city. Navigating rival neighborhoods as well as the conflicting attitudes toward them from everyone, they find themselves tested both on and off duty.

With Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Torchwood), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Charlotte Spencer (Glue), Cody Horn (Magic Mike), Michael Gaston (The Leftovers, The Mentalist, Unforgettable), Kenneth Mitchell (Jericho), Alberto Frezza

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The police department in the 1970s was the ultimate boys club… Until four women showed up and changed everything. They were only looking for equality. What they found was themselves.” This is how The Broad Squad pilot script starts, with these words and I think it’s the moment when I realize to my own surprise it might not be the little project I overlooked because it was a period detective drama and I hate both detective and period dramas and there are way too many on television. There is definitely something more. In fact, the detective part doesn’t even really matter. Yes, these women are police officers but they don’t investigate or interrogate. They patrol and they make people abide by the law, with force if needed. The Broad Squad is really a female character-driven drama which wants to show you how it was like being a woman in the 70s-80s, how much courage and pride it took for these four to drive and walk around the city everyday to make it safer for everyone. This pilot manages to be both entertaining and intelligent, even important I might add.

Between Rookie Blue -because of course, the show starts on their very first day on duty- and SouthLAnd -because they spend most of their days and nights patrolling and facing domestic violence, bar fights, young offenders making graffitis on the walls… no big drug lords and shootings on the streets- The Broad Squad is trying to be realistic, staying in the everyday life of people, not going into those exceptionnal moments when there is murder and death. Surely, if picked up, it will happen sometimes. It will need those. But the goal is to stay close to the characters, feeling what they feel. And it totally works. I’ve just met these women but I really wanna get to know them better, and also the people around, their families, their friends. There is already a lot to explore. My only doubts so far would be about the anger they are all experiencing, which is a little too heavy to take sometimes -fortunately there’s humour- and about the male characters, who are a little bit too… manly so far.

Joanne (Rutina Wesley) is probably the character that stands out the most because she’s the most struggling one. She’s not just a female cop. She’s an African-American female cop, who also happens to be a lesbian -but her colleagues don’t know it yet. And I have to remind you it’s the 70s! I mean: it’s a lot! She has one foot in the precinct and the other one in the poor neighbourhood where she grew up. She can be seen as a traitor by her own family. Then there is Eileen (Lauren Ambrose). She’s from an Irish family, her father was a cop, her husband is a cop and she always dreamt to be a cop. Now she has two children to raise and a lot to prove to everyone. She’s kind, maybe a little too much so far to be really interesting. But it’s a promising character, that’s for sure. Molly (Charlotte Spencer) is the famous one because she comes from a family that has a reputation in Boston, and not a good one actually. Her father disappeared when she was 15 and her brothers are delinquents. And finally, we have Lisa (Cody Horn), the gorgeous one. Her beauty doesn’t help her when it comes to be respected by men. She has a very dark secret that still haunts her everyday -and makes her an alchoholic- and the person who is responsible for her trauma happens to be a cop in the same precinct. They all have a good reason to be there. They all have something to prove, and something to find. They are beautifully written characters.

The Broad Squad is not your usual cop show, not only because it’s a period drama but because it aims to be different, not a crime-solving straight procedural but a heavy serialized and character-driven one, with no strong emphasis on romantic storylines. It’s hard to tell whether or not it can be successful on ABC. They have nothing like it right now. It’s not Castle. It’s not Scandal either. But it’s good and broad, with a strong cast. And I want to believe good shows always find a way…

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