By Shauna Carlos
Published: March 21st, 2018
Welcome to Shonda-land! Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a lawyer show that depicts the realities of life as an attorney and the world we live in: a world where race and ethnicity matter. Shonda Rhimes’ For the People aired on ABC on Tuesday, March 13th and I’m intrigued to see what this new series has in store.
When one hears that Shonda Rhimes is behind a show, high expectations are quickly set. She is the mastermind behind the hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. For the People, however, has had a slower start. The show has all the components to make it into the “TGIT” family, especially since this is Scandal’s last season, but it is still too early to tell. I enjoyed it, but I did not find myself at the edge of my seat. Seeing familiar faces like Britt Robertson, Benjamin Shenkman, and Wesam Keesh was nice, but the familiar faces weren’t the only thing that stood out to me. This cast is diverse. I don’t know if I’m the only one who cares about this, but one of the lawyers, Allison Adams (Jasmin Savoy Brown), has natural hair! On numerous occasions, there has been conversations about the professionalism of natural hair, and whether it should be allowed in the workplace. I am beyond happy to see an African American lawyer wearing her natural hair portrayed on a television show; it’s about time!
This series follows six lawyers who begin their new jobs as public defenders and prosecutors in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. From the first episode, you can get a pretty good sense of the characters and possible future romances. Sandra Bell (Britt Robertson) and Kate Littlejohn (Susannah Flood) are both eager and overachieving lawyers, as they are the first to show up for court. Jay Simmons (Wesam Keesh) appears to be a naive lawyer who needs a good dose of reality. Leonard Knox (Regé-Jean Page) comes off as an ass, but towards the end of the show we got a glimpse of his softer side. I have a strong feeling that as the series progresses, we will get an opportunity to understand him and hopefully to cheer him on. Allison Adams (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Seth Oliver (Bennett Rappaport) enter the show as a couple, but leave broken up due to competitiveness and crossed boundaries. Although all six of the characters have distinct and unique personalities, they all share one thing in common: drive. They are all trying to build their career and they are unwilling to let anyone get in the way.
The issues I had with the show were subtle, but they should be addressed. For starters, Kate Littlejohn (Susannah Flood) reminds me of How to Get Away with Murder’s Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil). Their personalities are too similar, but that might change once the show progresses and we learn more about her. Keesh’s character, Jay, comes off as way too naive for a lawyer that was able to get a job at “the second most powerful court in all the land.” It’s just not believable. He doesn’t bother with his case file, and just trusts the word of his client; he doesn’t even bother to check the authenticity of what he is told. What successful lawyer does that? He needs a reality check as soon as possible. Finally, the show just didn’t completely grab my attention. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t run to watch it every Tuesday. It’s still early and this was the first episode, so I have no doubt the show will come around. Shonda Rhimes is known for producing excellent shows, but we will see.