Brain Dump: The Women of the New Fall TV Series

A brain dump is a series of short thoughts on a variety of subjects. Today’s topic is the women of the new TV series for fall 2015.

Supergirl

Still of David Harewood, Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl

I’m happy to see a short hair cut on Chyler Leigh in Supergirl. The trend toward super long hair like Melissa Benoist is wearing in the show has gone on too long. Let’s cut that hair, ladies. I know, this has nothing to do with the show, but I’m sick of long hair.

First, Melissa Benoist is fabulous as our newest super hero. She’s fresh and enthusiastic and naive and so damn cute. Super heroes are not supposed to be cute, but I’m voting to let this one be cute while she’s growing into her powers. She can be serious and adult later.

Secondly, Laura Benanti who is playing both Kara’s kind mother and evil aunt is killing it!

Finally, I was fearful from the previews that Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) would be a horrible, overwrought caricature. Refreshingly, Flockhart is playing her as a close to  normal human.

Blindspot

Ashley Johnson and Jaime Alexander in Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander is starring in Blindspot and doing a fantastic job at it. However Ashley Johnson as the geeky Patterson has stolen my attention because of her relationship with her boyfriend David (Joe Dinicol). Patterson took home photos of all of Jane Doe’s tattoos and worked to decode the meaning of them with David’s help. It’s a huge security violation for her to do this and implies she might not be as smart as she should be when it comes to real life. I also worry that David is just with her because he’s a spy who is only there to see the tattoos.

This week her security lapse was discovered by the boss, Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Patterson wasn’t fired, but she broke up with David. We’ll see how that works out in future episodes.

Code Black

Still of Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzmán in Code Black

Who needs another medical show, right? Code Black turns out to be pulse pounding, crisis mode emergency room medicine. Everything is urgent and frantic. Amid all this chaos is Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Leanne Rorish who is calm and kind and dedicated to teaching her charges how to save lives. She’s the eye of a hurricane. She’s grieving the loss of her family while guiding the life savers she’s training.

Dr. Rorish is one of the most powerful and vulnerable characters to come along in a while. And she is flanked by several other interesting female characters. I’m digging Code Black.

Quantico

Still of Priyanka Chopra, Brian J. Smith, Johanna Braddy and Yasmine Al Massri in Quantico

At first it looked like Quantico was mainly a vehicle for Priyanka Chopra, but it’s turned out to be a true ensemble show with moments for many female characters including those played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri (who plays twins Orphan Black style), and Aunjanue Ellis. The male characters on the show are equally well done. The plot of this series is as complicated as How to Get Away with Murder. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprises to egg you along.

What are your thoughts about the women of the new fall TV shows?

Two New Female Lead Dramas for Fall: Quantico and Blindspot

Quantico and Blindspot are two new dramas for fall. Both feature leading women who are smart and capable. Both are connected to the FBI. Quantico is on ABC. Blindspot is on NBC. Here’s a mini review of both based on the early episodes.

Quantico

Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra
Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra

Quantico is about new FBI recruits. Priyanka Chopra is at the center of the story so far, but Johanna Braddy and Yasmine Al Massri and also in place as new FBI recruits. Aunjanue Ellis as an FBI trainer also has a prominent part. That’s a gift box full of women to work story arcs around, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

In interviews about her role in Quantico, Priyanka Chopra compared her character to Jason Borne. We learn why early on. As Alex Parrish, the new FBI trainee, she is found in the rubble of a terrorist bombing. For some reason the FBI agents who find her there are convinced that the act was committed by one of the recruits from her class at Quantico. In particular, they think it was her.

Priyanka Chopra in a scene from Quantico

Alex gets away from the FBI team holding her after the bombing. My assumption is that she spends the next few episodes trying to prove her innocence from outside the system. That means she will be smart, creative, and resilient – all qualities to admire in a lead character. I’m happy to watch her doing this and am looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander in Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander plays “Jane Doe” in Blindspot. She’s found in Times Square in a duffle bag, covered with tattoos and with no idea of who she is. Because of a gigantic tattoo of the name Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) on her back, she is taken to the FBI. There she works with Weller to unravel her own story.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste is the another woman prominent in the show. She plays FBI agent in charge Mayfair. Two other potentially interesting women characters who haven’t had as much to do yet are Ashley Johnson as a lab geek named Patterson and Audrey Esparza as Agent Zapata.

There have been two episodes of Blindspot now. Jane Doe has no clue about who she is, but her personality and training quickly assert themselves. She’s prone to physical violence and is trained in fighting, she’s smart and speaks several languages, she knows her way around weapons and technology. And she’s the best resource the FBI has to figure out what all the tattoos mean. In the first two episodes, her tattoos have pointed to crimes about to happen.

Weller thinks she is a person he knew as a child who disappeared and who is part of the reason he went into the FBI. Her disappearance has haunted him. Because of a scar on the back of her neck, her age, and her eye color, he decides he knows who she is. We should know by the next episode if he is right, because they were running DNA tests in episode 2.

Series creator Martin Gero told Variety that the puzzle represented by the tattoos could be figured out in the first episode – it was all there to decode. Let’s just say I haven’t solved the puzzle yet, but I’m willing to hang on for the ride.

Images via NBC and ABC.

Quantico: The First 8 Minutes Offers a Look at Priyanka Chopra, an Exciting New Star

I’ve been ready to watch Quantico from the first preview because of the interesting lead actress, Priyanka Chopra, playing Alex Parrish. Now that ABC released a teaser showing the first 8 minutes, I’m even more sure I’m going to love this show. It’s about a class of recruits heading for the FBI Academy to learn to be agents.

The series begins on ABC on September 27. Star Priyanka Chopra is a former Miss World, a huge Hindi films success in her home country, and winner of a National Film Award — the equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Actress. She can sing, too. She lived in the U.S. with an aunt during her high school days, and recorded music at that time.

Quantico is Chopra’s first step into the American market as an actress. I predict great success for her here. She’s gorgeous, she’s talented – she’s a winner. She told The New York Times, “After being in movies for 13 years in India, I’m suddenly a debutante all over again. I’m scared and nervous — petrified, actually.”

Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra
Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra

She’s not the only thing Quantico has going for it. I’m sure you noticed other interesting characters in that 8 minute clip. Jake McLaughlin plays Ryan who never learned how to shave, Yasmine Al Massri is Nimah, Johanna Braddy is Shelby, Tate Ellington is Simon, Graham Rogers is Caleb, Anabelle Acosta is Nathalie, and Aunjanue Ellis is Miranda Shaw, one of the FBI trainers on the stage. Brian J. Smith is in this clip, but it looks like he doesn’t make it past the first episode, if IMDB has the correct information the number of episodes in which each actor appears.

ABC wanted Priyanka Chopra for something. They didn’t know what, exactly, but were willing to keep trying until they found the right show for her. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chopra said ABC sent her 26 scripts before she picked Quantico. She didn’t want to be in a box labeled “Indian.” She commented, “ABC was sure they would find the right fit for me, and I think Quantico is. It’s me as an actor. Alex wasn’t written for someone with my ethnicity, but I am Indian in the show, so I’ve been rooted with my culture in the show, but that’s not what the show is about.” Chopra describes her character on the show as a female Jason Borne, smart and tough, but also feminine.

The series doesn’t waste a second getting Alex into hot water. She’s the FBI trainee suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on New York since September 11. I’m already rooting for her to get herself out of this mess, Jason Borne style.

A diverse cast, several leading parts for women, a high stakes story promising lots of action: all that adds up to an appealing season for Quantico. Will you be watching?

[Note: This post was syndicated at BlogHer in a slightly different form.]