ABC’s new crime/legal drama Notorious premiered on Thursday and going into it I had absolutely zero expectations. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of it until about a week ago. That being said, I was left unimpressed by the show that enters an already crowded genre that features shows like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and even Law and Order. Unlike these shows, however, Notorious relies too much on its pretty cast and trendy L.A. setting in hopes of covering up its overdone melodrama and stale writing.
Based on real-life celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos and former news producer Wendy Walker, Notorious focuses on the relationship between the media and its role in criminal law and high-profile cases (think Nancy Grace). Piper Perabo plays Julia, the executive producer of America’s number one cable news program. She is exactly what you would expect from this kind of show, a powerful female lead who tells herself she is career oriented but watches as her personal life slowly starts to interfere. Perabo plays alongside Daniel Sunjata, the fierce high-profile lawyer Jake. The two attempt to benefit each other’s careers (that being the clients and the show) by manipulating headlines and airing strategically planned guests on the show.
The first episode involves a tech-billionaire who was arrested on charges of a hit-and-run. Jake, his attorney, provides Julia with constant updates on the case and high-profile guests for the show and in return he gets to control the narrative they tell. The case, of course, has many “unforeseen” developments and the pilot ends with more questions than answers. While this may seem like an interesting premise, its overshadowed by unnecessary personal dilemmas and predictable sexual tension. We can only hope the entire season isn’t based on this one case. Instead of going in the direction of a well written show like HBO’s The Newsroom, Notorious feels like a slightly more adult version of Pretty Little Liars.
The premise of the show could have been fresh and intriguing. There are plenty of crime and legal dramas out there, but this one looked to focus on a relationship seldom seen on TV. It could have offered crisp and thought out writing like The Newsroom, or interesting characters like in Suits. Notorious, however, panders to those obsessed with every character’s personal life and what current and sappy love triangle they are caught up in. Instead of giving viewers something to think about, it gives viewers something to look at.