Pilotitis 2014: The Mysteries of Laura

Debra Messing is just as goofily excited as we are about the Mysteries of Laura.
The Mysteries of Laura (Photo: KC Bailey / NBC)

The Mysteries of Laura is one of the most reviled new shows this season. Real talk: it’s not that bad…

Show

The Mysteries of Laura, which aired a “preview” Wednesday at 10pm (repeating Thursday), but will start in its normal timeslot of Wednesdays at 8pm next week.

Premise

Based on the Spanish series Los Misterios de Laura, Laura Diamond (Debra Messing) has to balance her work life as a homicide detective who plays by her own rules and a home life with almost no rules. She tries to work with her estranged husband (Josh Lucas) in keeping their unruly twin boys in line. Think of it as Madcap Momcop.1

Lineage

Debra Messing is NBC’s darling, bouncing from Will & Grace to my beloved Smash to this. Greg Berlanti (Dawson’s Creek and this season’s The Flash) and McG (The O.C. and Chuck) are behind the scenes, with the latter directing the pilot. Other EP Jeff Rake last worked on The Tomorrow People, so you can understand why this is catnip for me.

Who is the Mysteries of Laura For?

NBC wants you to think it’s for an audience craving a strong female character. Twitter will tell you it’s for people of questionable taste and snarky comments.

What Works

Let’s get this out of the way: this is not a good show. However, the show seems to acknowledge this from the get-go and doesn’t attempt to be more than it is. Messing seems to be having a blast playing a relatively off-the-wall character. The pilot felt like a clone of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in many ways, which I interpret to mean A) that’s a quality show that deserves cloning and NBC recognizes that, and B) if this did exist in the B99 universe it would make a lot more sense.

What Doesn’t Work

Kids ruin everything, and this show proves that rule. I don’t care about Laura’s home life—in the first minute of the episode she shoots an assailant in the ear during a Mexican standoff. That’s kind of badass2 and Laura’s ambivalence about it is much more interesting than her kids peeing on each other WHICH ALSO HAPPENED.

Does This Pass the Bechdel Test?3

Yes? Within the first three minutes(!) Laura and fellow detective Meredith argue about proper procedure regarding firearms. The question mark is because the conversation ends with Laura calling Meredith “a douchebag,” and I’m not sure if that violates the spirit of Bechdel.

Verdict

I am so in until this show gets cancelled. Mysteries of Laura did well in the ratings with the preview, but it will be a different story when we see it in its natural habitat opposite SurvivorHell’s Kitchen, and ABC’s comedy block.

  1. Which would have been a better title, IMHO.  
  2. and insane, don’t forget insane  
  3. 1. Two named female characters 2. have a conversation 3. about something other than a man.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv