September 24, 2014, 8 PM (EST), NBC
With the new series The Mysteries of Laura, NBC is once again attempting to capitalize on Debra Messing’s charm and goodwill generated by her role in Will and Grace. Her character Laura is a preternaturally observant and extremely reckless detective who is also the semi-single mother of her maladjusted young twin boys. Her cop husband is in complete denial that their marriage is over because of his infidelity, and she tolerates him even though she wants a divorce. None of this sounds particularly problematic, but let me be clear – this show is a miserable failure. There are no redeeming qualities. It’s frequently offensive. The storylines are simultaneously nonsensical and predictable. The production values are horrid. The dialogue is nauseating. The cast has no chemistry. Given all of that, I see no future in which this show could sustain an audience.
I was actually looking forward to a show built around an unlikable woman, but Laura is just a caricature through which to push every single offensive stereotype about working mothers you could think of. She doesn’t have time to take care of herself or clean her car. She takes short cuts to get the result she wants, whether it’s at her kids’ school or to get a break in a case. Her manipulation goes far and above a necessary evil to the level of pathology. In one particularly gross scene, she drugs her kids with cough syrup so that they’ll behave at an interview for a new pre-school. It’s played for laughs. In another, she convinces a valet to let her into the car of a suspect by acting like a ditsy sexpot. It’s also framed as a lighthearted moment. They even found a way for her to strut around in a swimsuit. The writers play up her image as a frumpy scatterbrain, like when she stands in the middle of her house wearing nothing but spanx or how her how her hair is mostly held up lazily by a claw clip. She’s often put in humiliating positions because she has no shame, and then the writers have her “triumph” in her work over bad guys.
I won’t even attempt to explain the myriad narrative problems because it would take way more words than I’m willing to waste. Just know that Laura is basically psychic because she guesses everything right and can never be wrong, otherwise she’d die and the show would be over. She correctly guesses twice in the same episode that a man with a gun pointed at someone can be talked down by monologues explaining her personality. She uses every opportunity to obnoxiously explain her quirks. Everyone around Laura is evil, boring, or both. There are not enough negative things to say about this show so I’ll just stop there. If you want a lighthearted cop show with great characters, watch Brooklyn Nine Nine. If you want a show about a mom juggling work, her flaws, an ex-husband, and motherhood check out Nurse Jackie. I won’t be sticking around past this pilot, but if you do, I wish you luck.
I was actually looking forward to a show built around an unlikable woman, but Laura is just a caricature through which to push every single offensive stereotype about working mothers you could think of.