Reckless’ M.O. Is To Insert Sex

Reckless, now on CBS
Reckless (Photo: CBS)

No matter how you read that, you’re not as pervy as Reckless thinks it’s trying to be.

The very first scene of Reckless must have been shot by the CBS Department of Procedural Television (second unit) because I swear I’ve seen it – the same angles, the same colors, the same music – on Numb3rs and at least one of the CSI‘s. I momentarily flashed back to a lazy afternoon sometime somewhere watching reruns while I sorted laundry or read a book.1 Whatever – CBS drama is CBS drama especially vis a vis their own productions. You can hope there’s a tweak in the aesthetic, or you can hope for some sort of leap forward in storytelling. Success in the former is CSI: Miami. Success in the latter might be The Good Wife2; failure is much more obvious.

Reckless hooks its aesthetic plans to a change in location, namely Charleston, SC.3 But, as my comments on the opening scene might suggest, accents are not enough.4 So to stand out Reckless attaches sex. Not just flirtation and love triangles and naughty, naughty games – oh, it has those aplenty – but the (apparent) spine of this summer series is a sex-, probable sexual assault-, and sexual-politics-laden event that involves three main characters directly and draws in two others because lawyers.

Yes lawyers; also cops. Episode two suggests a split-the-difference approach between an arc show with relationships and a procedural with some of the characters regularly interacting over things professional. This will just starve the cake eaters out there, already growing thin from the character stew Reckless serves up. The story here tries, but it’s not going anywhere, so weighted down as it is with a list of character tropes longer than my patience for Dick Wolf procedurals.5 To wit:

  • lawyer, divorced father with two young girls, self-made man who married into money and power, politically savvy with a heart of gold, lands same job his daddy once had.
  • lawyer, dating another transplant from up north, crafty in the courtroom, so savvy with humans as to win almost every time – no matter who her client may be.
  • corrupt cop who is a) sexually bent and b) good at his job but c) out to prove he’s great at his job (which he’s not), also macho and ex-military.
  • handsome homicide detective who wears expensive suits and walks the hero walk, except for that Terrible Secret.
  • blond, willowy, sexy beat cop6 who is clearly stronger and smarter than she lets on.

And on and on. Despite having something for everyone, Reckless is all very superficial. So much just gets lost in the flatness that is CBS drama these days, and we know it’s lost because we’ve seen these actors doing much better elsewhere. Shawn Hatosy plays a much less developed and more Southern version of his hotheaded detective from Southland.7 Georgina Haig lacks any of the power and watchability she displayed on Fringe.8 Cam Gigandet is charming into the void.

Top it all off with this: Reckless‘ dalliances with gender roles and sexual dynamics is clunky as all get out, making it a minefield for anyone even vaguely aligned with the term feminism. I didn’t see victim-blaming per se, but I can’t think the network that taught us about terrorism via NCIS is going to be particularly adept at showing how sex both resonates and is not to be discussed in these institutions and the parts of this culture on display.

Titillating, sure. But we’ve been titillated better, elsewhere as well.

  1. What? I’m awesome like that.  
  2. Dunno, never seen it, but I hear it’s good.  
  3. The South is rising again on network TV.  
  4. Title of my next Broadway show.  
  5. Took me eight episodes to ditch Chicago P.D. and I still watch SVU WHO KNOWS WHY.  
  6. They exist. Television tells me so.  
  7. Which, seriously – go watch that.  
  8. Which, also – go watch. If the first season isn’t doing it for you, skip to the second and settle in.  

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About Aaron Mucciolo 206 Articles
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