That was expectedly mediocre.
I didn’t bank on For The People being a clever legal drama in the vein of The Good Wife, but Shonda Rhimes is responsible for so many of my favorites, most notably Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, that I certainly wish this was a stronger pilot. However, unlike every other show with the Shondaland name on it, this one seems more interested in telling weekly legal cases than being a serialized drama.
The story of two teams who sit on opposite sides of a courtroom, or the Mother Court as they call it, For The People doesn’t offer anything we haven’t really seen before. If you’re familiar with Rhimes’ work, you know to expect some flashy scenes, sharp dialogue and quirky characters. The pilot checks off all of these by introducing us to Sandra Bell, who appears to be a mashup between Grey’s Anatomy’s Amelia and April, but before that scares you off (particularly the April part), it’s worth mentioning that Britt Robertson is perfectly cast as the young, titular character navigating a cut-throat environment in New York. Also compelling are Jasmin Savoy Brown as Allison and Susannah Flood as Kate, and while Hope Davis is infinitely more likable here as Sandra’s mentor than she ever was on Wayward Pines, her performance still leaves a lot to be desired, sadly.
Less impressive are the cases. Much like every show that follows a similar formula, For The People tells three separate cases in the opening hour then proceeds to introduce twists along the way. In typical Shondaland fashion, the lawyers’ personal lives intertwine with their job, but unlike Grey’s Anatomy, the writers don’t even try to make the cases subtle, which results in some bland and unexciting storytelling.
Ultimately, for a procedural show like this to work, it needs to create believable and relatable characters. Granted, a pilot episode can only do so much with one hour, but there might be hope for the writers to develop all six lawyers more in future episodes to warrant our investment in them. If they can somehow manage to throw in some serialized elements as well, it would probably be for the best.
While nothing groundbreaking, For The People is off to an interesting start. I’ll give Shonda Rhimes’ latest project three episodes, at least.