The jury is not out yet on Shonda Rhimes’ ‘For the People’

Next up in the Shonda Rhimes television arsenal is her new show “For the People” which premiered on March 13 on ABC. This new show follows the Rhimes’ formula to a T, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth watching.

Like many of her other productions, “For the People” is set in a place where equally inspiring and disheartening things happen, thus placing the characters in a space where moments that pull at your heartstrings, only to later rip your heart out of your chest, are frequent. This time, Rhimes has traded the White House and Seattle Grace for the Southern District of New York Federal Court, known as “The Mother Court” because it is one of the most influential and active courts in the country.

The beautiful, capable and emotionally scarred female lead in a high-powered job is played by Britt Robertson. Known for her work in “The Longest Ride,” “Tomorrowland,” “A Dog’s Purpose” and most recently, “The Space Between Us,” Robertson is not only the leading lady, but one of the most well-known faces in a largely unknown cast.

These less experienced actors make up the small troop of secondary characters that we’re supposed to care less about, but that’s not always the case for me at least. Think of Sloan, Lexie and Henry in “Greys” and Oliver in “How to Get Away with Murder;” they are supposed to be fan favorites, but usually end up being more beloved than the top of the ticket. For me, “For the People’s” lovable show stealer will likely be Kate Littlejohn played by Susannah Flood.

These new names will be supported not only by Robertson, but by well-respected names in television who deserve more acclaim than they’re given including Hope Davis, (“The Newsroom”), Anna Deavere Smith (“The West Wing”) and Vondie Curtis-Hall (“Daredevil”). These actors portray the wise but weathered superiors who contrast the bright-eyed and determined newcomers “For the People” follows.

Just like the tried and tested character dynamic, viewers can also expect the words “conflict of interest” to be said many of times as romances interfere with their jobs. Even in the first episode this has already proved to be true when Allison, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Seth, played by Ben Rappaport, ended their two-year relationship over a case because Allison used what he had revealed in a private conversation against him in court. Knowing Rhimes’ model, I’m going to go ahead and assume that this won’t be the last time this happens either.

Viewers can also expect moving speeches about the importance of doing good in the face of incredible adversity and criticism even when it threatens their job security. These moments, while cliché, are cliché because we love seeing them over and over.

While the jury’s not out on whether this is Rhimes’ next big thing, we can be sure that it’s authentically a Rhimes production, which usually means a solid first season -- after that, the verdict isn’t certain.


Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexis.taylor@uconn.edu.