One of the biggest things that make For The People stand out from other Shondaland shows on ABC is that it’s not sexy. That’s not a bad thing of course, but it feels very intentional during some scenes that you feel like you’re watching an edited PG version of the show. And probably not a good one.
While Annalise has her booze on How To Get Away With Murder, Olivia Pope has the White House on Scandal, and everyone sleeps with everyone on Grey’s Anatomy, the characters of For The People are completely drawn into their jobs and their jobs only. It’s a refreshing change for sure, but it certainly doesn’t make for engaging television when the writers are less focused on the entertainment part and more interested in telling standalone cases from point A to point B. At this rate, what makes this show any different from your typical Law & Order episode, then?
That’s not to say that Rahowa is a complete dud. First, Jay is much more developed here than he was last week as he defends a white supremacist, allowing him a chance to give an inspiring speech to the jury by the end of the hour. Seth determines that he’s more than just Allison’s ex-boyfriend, and teaming him up with Kate on what turns out to be a high profile case proves to be absolutely delightful. The third and final case is the least exciting as Sandra takes on a pro bono after the slumlord Tina gives a poor, innocent woman a hard time about being five minutes late. If there was anything good that came out of that C-subplot, it’s that it gave us more Tina screen-time.
There’s no telling if this show ever plans on adding more serialized elements, but if it wants to succeed and have longterm potential (although the ratings are near-disastrous), it has to prove that it needs to exist in this era of peak TV. Telling mini-standalone stories every week sadly won’t cut it.
Bits & Cases
– How lazy are the opening title credits? I actually miss when TV shows put some effort into these sequences.
– I appreciate that this episode made constant references to the cases from the pilot. Let’s hope they will continue to acknowledge previous clients in the future.
– How heartbreaking was the reveal that the housekeeper had been working for a doctor for over 17 years in hopes that she could become documented in the States?
– Leonard is still extremely unlikable, but at least his senator mother isn’t any better, right?
– So what’s the deal with Jill and Roger? Are they dating or do they just hang out as friends? Do I care?
– Anyone else feels this show is desperate to find the next Meredith/Cristina in Sandra and Allison? I’ll give them a C for effort on this one.
Quotes from the Mother Court
Jill: Jay, my office.
Jay: Did that sound like “Jay, come to my office so I can fire you” or “Jay, I didn’t want to tell you in front of everyone else, but you’re clearly my favorite”?
Sandra & Allison: (simultaneously) No, not that one / What was the first one again?
Kate: Okay, let’s establish some ground rules here. I don’t care about your girlfriend.
Kate: Or her.
Seth: Same person.
Kate: See, I don’t care. I don’t care about what happened in your last case. I’m unlikely to care about your next case. I care about this case.
Seth: Do you really think I’m a bad lawyer?
Kate: Hmm, let’s see how this all plays out first before I answer that.
Seth: I’m really a good lawyer.
Kate: Probably not gonna be my answer.
Allison: We are not going to break up over an insider-trading case. That’s ridiculous.
Seth: No, we’re gonna break up because you won it with a move you would never think of pulling on someone you liked or respected. But I’m a good lawyer, Al. And I don’t want to be second chair to you the rest of my life. And if I stay, we both know that I would be.
Roger: I’m a big boy, I don’t need the credit.
Jill: Neither of those statements is true.
The second episode doesn’t do much to improve on the pilot, but you can still do a lot worse than For The People.