5 New TV Shows Starring Los Angeles
The fall TV season is here! Yes, the vestigial tail of television — having a TV "season" that starts on a particular date, rather than just whenever something drops on streaming — is (semi-)officially underway.
A lot of those shows are set here in Los Angeles. Whether that's because they're actually shooting here, because the writers know L.A., or because there's actually something vital to the story about being in this city, here's a look at this fall's L.A. programming — The Neighborhood, All American, The Kids are Alright, The Rookie, and a bonus midseason show, The Fix.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD (CBS)
The Neighborhood has a light approach to some hot button issues, with a white family moving into a black neighborhood. It relyies on the charms of Cedric the Entertainer and Max Greenfield (New Girl) to show the awkwardness while also delivering laughs.
Cedric's Calvin Butler plays the neighborhood curmudgeon, trying to preserve the character of his community after the uber-friendly Dave Johnson moves there from Michigan with his family.
The show is loosely based on creator Jim Reynolds' own experiences moving to a traditionally black L.A. neighborhood.
"What I discovered in that process, remembering things we all kind of learned — and sometimes forget about — the power of humanity, kindness, and basic principles of being a good neighbor and wanting to bring that to television at a time when people are very busy at trying to position us as opposites," Reynolds told journalists at the Television Critics Association's press tour.
There was an important perspective missing early in the show's development, Cedric the Entertainer told journalists.
"When I started to get involved, I thought the main thing that was missing was the actual point of view of the black guy," Cedric said. "[Jim] had a point of view moving into a black neighborhood, but didn't have the point of view of the other side... if you get that point of view, you get more into the human side, the relationship side, and what it takes to live in harmony with someone next door to you — white, black, or otherwise."
Dave Johnson's wife Gemma brings her blonde sunniness to the equation, played by 2 Broke Girls' Beth Behrs. She's also the instigator in kicking the show off, as she gets a job in L.A. as a school principal, leading to their move. Calvin's wife Tina is played by Tichina Arnold, known for her roles on shows like Martin and Everybody Hates Chris.
The Johnsons try to integrate themselves into the community, despite heavy skepticism — trying way too hard to not seem racist. Dave Johnson is a professional conflict negotiator, so his practiced approaches to friendliness generate a lot of the show's comedy.
There's also a steady hand behind the pilot. It's directed by the 77-year-old James Burrows, who's directed more than a thousand episodes of TV, including 50 pilots. He also co-created Cheers.
The Neighborhood premieres Oct. 1 on CBS.
ALL AMERICAN (THE CW)
The CW's All American may be the most heavily real-world inspired show on the fall docket, with the main character sharing a first name with the show's inspiration, Spencer Paysinger. It's about a star high school football player at Compton's South Crenshaw High who ends up getting recruited to play for Beverly Hills High instead.
The show features the show's version of Paysinger, Spencer James, going back and forth between the worlds of Compton and Beverly Hills, from inner city to a world of rich kids. Showrunner April Blair said at the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews that they were trying not to present either neighborhood as being better than the other, but just trying to show the reality of what life is like for people in those communities.
Paysinger, who played in the NFL, also serves as a consulting producer on the show. He said at the PaleyFest event that one of his priorities was making sure the football on the show looked real — the show works with an outside company that helps choreograph the football scenes to make the action as crisp and believable as possible.
The show also shoots in some of Paysinger's old haunts in South L.A., according to the Associated Press, including a local park and the barbershop he's gone to his whole life. The show does heavily divert from true life, adding some extra soapy elements to pull viewers in, but Paysinger remains at its heart.
Beyond real life, the two worlds setup of the show is also reminiscent of a Fox teen classic — The O.C.
All American premieres Oct. 10 on the CW.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (ABC)
This L.A. period piece (not to be confused with the lesbian dramedy feature The Kids Are All Right) tells the story of an Irish Catholic family with eight kids — all boys — in the L.A. suburbs of the early '70s.
While taking place 45 years ago, the show includes jokes clearly meant to make us think of our modern world — like the family's dad talking about "phony news" when one of his kids brings up Watergate. It also takes shots at problems that used to be a much larger part of L.A. life, like omnipresent smog.
It's inspired by the real-life childhood of writer/executive producer Tim Doyle. He narrates from the present day, talking about his childhood dreaming of becoming a performer. That's despite his parents' protestations that they didn't want him getting involved in "Hollyweird."
You'll see some familiar faces, with Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead, Band of Brothers) and Mary McCormack (The West Wing, In Plain Sight) starring as the parents. They've also got a refugee from the short-lived CBS series Me, Myself & I, 15-year-old Christopher Paul Richards, trying his hand and playing a lovable son once more.
The Kids Are Alright premieres Oct. 16 on ABC.
THE ROOKIE (ABC)
Nathan Fillion's been a fan favorite for a long time, becoming a cult favorite thanks to Firefly and Joss Whedon web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, as well as spending eight seasons as a mystery novelist who helps the cops on Castle. Now he's playing a cop himself as the oldest rookie on the LAPD force.
His character, John Nolan, has to confront ageism and the idea that becoming a cop is just his midlife crisis. Just like all the other shows on this list, there's a real-world inspiration — producer Mark Gordon had bought the life rights to the real oldest rookie in the LAPD.
Fillion, 47 himself, joked with TV critics that "kneeling is a stunt for me." He added that he felt the show presented the new normal of society, with everyone either having the experience of switching careers or knowing someone who has.
It looks to be trying to bring back some of that Castle magic, written by former co-showrunner Alexi Hawley. Fillion's rookie is also new to town, moving to L.A. in the pilot after getting divorced and being present for a bank robbery.
The show may have an older demographic — there are articles about it being written by the AARP — but Fillion said they're going after anyone who wants to watch.
The Rookie premieres Oct. 16 on ABC.
BONUS: THE FIX (ABC)
This is the most obviously ripped-from-the-headlines story on our list, clearly inspired by O. J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, a co-writer and executive producer on the show.
The pitch: an L.A. district attorney, Maya Travis (played by Robin Tunney of The Mentalist), loses when prosecuting an actor for the double murder of his wife and another woman. Travis moves to the Pacific Northwest, then comes back when that same celeb is suspected of yet another murder — this time his young girlfriend. The show's title has multiple meanings, from trying to fix past mistakes, to actor "Sevvy" Johnson's lawyer claiming that the fix is in when it comes to falsely convicting his client.
Travis has to deal with being savaged by the media, just like the real Marcia Clark. The show is being described as part legal thriller, part confessional, and part revenge fantasy, so Clark's DNA is all over it. Clark's been having a moment the past couple years, with the culture re-evaluating how she was treated — notably thanks to the work of Sarah Paulson on the People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
The Fix is a midseason show, so it's likely to premiere around January, but it could be slotted in elsewhere depending on how the season evolves.
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