If you've been on the internet today, you've probably heard that NBC has a new cop show, starring Debra Messing, premiering in a special 10 p.m. timeslot tonight. You've also probably heard that it's bad. Really, really bad. It's saddled with an outdated "can a woman hold a job AND be a mother at the same time?" premise. There are infuriating and frequent winks to how Laura's two "occupations" (NYPD detective and mother of two tyrant-twins) intersect, plus a thuddlingly obvious murder mystery she has to solve in Westchester (despite that being well out of the NYPD's jurisdiction). There's too much to complain about, but here are a few of the most egregious examples of lazy writing in what might be the fall TV season's worst show.
1. The Main Character Explains Her Personality to Someone She Just Met
The show begins with a standoff between Laura and…a crazy homeless man? Who for some reason has decided to start waving a gun around. He takes a hostage and dismisses her as some lady, and tells her not to be stupid. "Excuse me, it's Detective, and I really think you should put the gun down. I'm a little Type-A, and I practice all the time with this thing," she tells him (us). Didn't think Laura was a badass, huh? She sure showed you!
2. You Think She's Doing a Cop Thing, But She's Doing a MOM THING!!!
Laura is told there's a "911 at Newhall" and busts her ass to get to the crime scene. It looks like a blood-splattered nightmare and she calls it "a depraved, unspeakable act." Except it's just paint and she's talking to her awful children! This is arguably the worst moment of the whole pilot because only the legally blind would mistake this magenta paint-job for actual blood.
3. Laura Diamond Doesn’t Play By the Rules
When she gets back to the office, Laura gets chewed out for discharging her weapon by a stern superior. "Last time I checked it was standard procedure to wait for a hostage negotiator before opening fire," the supervisor tuts. Laura calls her a douchebag. Take that, rules! Laura should fire her gun in crowded New York City parks whenever she wants!
4. Children Are Disgusting Uncontrollable Psychopaths
There is more than one scene in the pilot where Laura's twins, who I assume emerged not from her vagina but from the mouth of hell itself, urinate on something. At one point, they urinate on each other, in broad daylight, while wearing clothes, for no particular reason, and get expelled from school. Laura should follow suit by throwing these things into a military academy at the very least, if not by blasting them into space.
5. Laura Has to Change Into Swimwear to Solve the Mystery
At one point, as Laura and her handsome partner try to solve the case, they have to go to an exclusive NYC pool club that requires them to be in swimsuits. "Damn, where you been hidin' that?" her partner yells as she comes downstairs in a (fairly tasteful) once-piece. In case you didn't get that those two were going to have a whole sexual tension thing going on.
6. Laura Breaks All the [Ethical] Rules [Governing the Behavior of NYPD Officers]
One thing that's refreshing about The Mysteries of Laura is that it's not shy about how anti-heroic its protagonist can be. Or perhaps it's just an inadvertent by-product of an insistence on showing what a maverick cop AND a maverick mom she can be. Here, Laura wantonly abuses her power to get her kid into a pre-K by threatening to arrest some cheerleading coach with a few outstanding parking tickets. "I'm just a mother, with a shiny badge, a loaded gun and very little patience," she snarls, which is indisputably a murder threat. Laura Diamond should be in jail.
7. A Mother Always Knows Best
Every clue in the murder case Laura investigates points towards the victim's wife, but Laura knows better. Why does Laura know better? Because Laura knows everything, because she is a wise mother and this grants her ultimate dominion over all decision-making and laws. Or, as she puts it, "Gut feeling."
My prediction for The Mysteries of Laura is that it remains a formulaic cop dramedy that finds heavy-handed plots every week that reference the similarities between being a tough-ass detective and a tough-but-fair mommy. I'd much rather it turn into a show about a lunatic vigilante cop who breaks every rule in the book because no one tells her what to do. Instead, we'll probably get week after week of will-they-won't-they as Laura decides between her cute partner and her scoundrel husband (Josh Lucas). Because for all her independence as a cop and single mom, for some reason she's finding it hard to divorce this vacuous man-child of an absent father.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.