This Wednesday (April 3rd) DirecTV’s Audience Channel debuts its first foray into original programming with Rogue, a dark family drama set against the competing worlds of a crime syndicate and the police force investigating them. Caught in the middle of these forces, as well as the struggles of daily family life, is Grace (Thandie Newton) an undercover cop who is a little too invested in her job. When her young son becomes the victim of a (seemingly) random act of violence Grace plunges off the edge of rational and descends into the criminal underbelly of Oakland in a frantic attempt to solve the mystery of her son’s murder.
It seems fitting that the network that picked up the indescribably delicious Damages after its premature cancelling on FX would center its first original drama on another female anti-hero. The new generation of television has cemented its fascination with the every-day Joe hiding dark secrets, bad behavior, and criminal tendencies, but while all the Don Drapers, Walter Whites, and Tony Sopranos have been enjoying their day in the sun, the female anti-hero has been noticeably absent (in fact it’s the one area network constantly bests cable with their Olivia Popes, Emily Thornes, and Alicia Florricks). But where Patty Hewes laid down the torch Grace Travis kindly retrieves it and proves that, when their back is against the wall, women can be just as conniving, ruthless, and badass as their male counterpoints. And they can be just as morally conflicted about it, as well.
But the beauty of Rogue is that Grace is not merely an anti-hero, but an anti-hero operating in an increasing anti-hero world “…It sort of explores different sides of everything. There’s no black and white. There’s a lot of grey,” said Rouge star Leah Gibson (Cathy Laszlo) in a recent interview with A Couple of Critics. “The closer you look the more similarities that you see and the more humanity is revealed on both sides and all sides of things. And Grace embarks on this mission to seek answers and find the truth about what happened to her son and the further, the more information that she is given, the further she goes down the rabbit hole and her whole world kind of changes and her morality is questionable and her actions are questionable and I think its interesting the further she gets into the Laszlo family its who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s good, who’s’ bad and is everyone both all of those things.”
Ultimately, every story can be boiled down to it familial core and never is that more true than in mob stories. Ever since The Godfather introduced the mafia as a metaphor for family, the idea has created a genre of its own. Like The Godfather, the Laszlos consist of a father (Jimmy, played by Morton Csokas) and the two sons vying for his approval: Alec (Joshua Sassa) and Max (Matthew Beard). In the same interview Sasse explained how the classic dynamic plays out on Rogue.
“Whenever you’re looking at sons and fathers, sons are always going to try and fight for that father’s love. There’s always going to be a rivalry between the two of them. And me and Max represent the two sides of Jimmy’s personality; the brains and the brawn and I represent where Jimmy’s come from. I come from the streets and I’m rough and I’m the kind of guy who takes the garbage out… [and] Max represents where Jimmy wants to go in his life. You know, Jimmy wants to try and get a private bank and move towards the straight and narrow.”
The television viewing public has been incredibly vocal about their interest in complex, layered storytelling and DirecTV is smart to align their first foray into original content with those demands. The story of cops chasing after the bad guys may seem repetitive, and it certainly has been done any times, but Stasse and Gibson caution against such preconceived notions.
“The characters are clearly defined in their intentions and what they’re after and the show kind of questions what happens when you get what want. What about when what you’re after is given to you and it just isn’t what you wanted to begin with…. This show delivers everything that it questions in the beginning and then some,” Gibson explained. Stasse added, “Whatever you think is gonna happen, isn’t gonna happen.
Rogue debuts with a two-hour premiere Wednesday April 3rd on DirectTV’s Audience Channel at 8pm CT. Check back here on April 4th for a review of the pilot.
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