Tuesday, August 19, 2014
WE tv's THE DIVIDE is One of the Most Daring TV Shows Right Now about the Legal System
You know how I'm always talking about how TV is boldly going where current film has been too afraid to go? Well, you can add WE tv's new show The Divide on that super long list of shows you need to watch if you know what's good for you. You're probably thinking, wait WE tv has scripted television? Yes, the network has finally made the leap to scripted television and they are coming out swinging with a show that is more daring and more right now than many other shows on TV. So much so that the ladies of Cinema in Noir and I included it in our discussion about TV shows and film with social/political justice themes on Sunday's episode.
So, what's it about? Well, the show is at its core a legal drama that spends very little time in the courtroom and all its time exploring the personal morality of the victims, lawyers, prosecutors and everyone in between--for better or for worse. But it doesn't sugarcoat the legal process or the complexities between good and evil, innocent or guilty. The story kicks off with the case of Jared (True Blood's Chris Bauer), a man convicted and sentenced to death for breaking and entering into a home, and killing a African-American married couple and their young daughter, leaving only a grieving second daughter (Britne Oldford) as an unexpected witness. While the prosecuting lawyer, Adam Page (Damon Gupton), thinks the case is in the bag, a renegade team led by Clark Rylance (Pail Schneider) and his super ambitious law school intern Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland) feverishly work to clear Jared's name. Just as the Innocence Initiative compiled enough evidence to exonerate Jared, he is executed.
And that's just the first episode.
Of course, as the story this hitches a conversation about the legal system--how it can be skewed racially, politically and economically at the benefit or downfall of both the victims or the perpetrators. But the show, co-created by Scandal's Tony Goldwyn, doesn't present its characters as martyrs or villains. Rather, it establishes them as humans--stacked with layers and capable of just as much wrong as right that they sometimes begin to even question themselves. In fact, since we're dealing with such intelligent characters, they have the ability to scrutinize into the nuances of law and society, and present it in a way that not only provokes thought but also provides insight on their own ethics. These characters are wonderfully flawed, adamant in their views whether you agree with them or not, and represent the natural duality of human nature.
It's not a show about black or white, right or wrong. Rather, it's the in-between that is The Divide's sweet spot, what it chooses to evoke as it aims to teach the law without succumbing to its ethics. The dialogue is filled with moments in which the characters speak out against injustice while it also shows the intricacies of own actions. With just two more episodes left of the first season, The Divide needs to be on your must-watch list.
The Divide airs Wednesdays at 9pm on WE tv.