ABC's female-empowered shows definitely have a formula for success, and the introduction of its new show Notorious proves it.
Let me start by saying, I love me some #TGIT, and I love that ABC is jumping on the new-age feminism bandwagon. I think Scandal and The Catch executive producer Shonda Rhimes can really do no wrong. She is a pioneer for women and minorities on television, and I will forever be a loyal and loving fan.
But that doesn't mean there aren't some glaring trends for success with these shows.
Scandal's Olivia Pope and The Catch's Alice Vaughan both have clients, and they both expose fraud for a living by protecting those clients while maintaining their status as the best in the business — all while effortlessly carrying a professionalism that most women can only dream about.
When it comes to the men, The Catch's Benjamin Jones and Scandal's Jake Ballard are the bad boys from troubled pasts who just want redemption. They both want to be better men thanks to the woman they love. Without this strong, powerful, effective woman, they would still be criminals. Sure, Jake has had a more sordid storyline because Scandal has been on for many a season now. But you know Benjamin will be headed down that morally twisted road in Season 2. Still, we love to love them, because they are the bad boys with heart, the men who steal our souls while we thank them for it and the villains who end up as heroes.
Enter Notorious. While Scandal has the political arena covered and The Catch tackles the crime world, Notorious will focus on the media. While Notorious isn't from Rhimes, it still follows the same formula that ABC seems to love. Powerhouse girl, shady but charming guy, fraud and intrigue abounding. Notorious has seemingly got it all, it's just set in a new business world — that of the media. Oh, and that powerhouse girl, Julia George (Piper Perabo), will be a blonde this time.
Will I be watching?
Oh, you bet I will.
Mostly because I love Perabo from her Coyote Ugly days (you had better believe it!) and because Daniel Sunjata is a TV leading man just waiting to happen. He's like a George Clooney in the making, and I don't say that lightly. He simmered on Graceland, playing a similar kind of role — the man riding the line between good and evil for the sake of the greater good, and he slayed it. In Notorious, he's described as a "charismatic defense attorney" who teams up with Julia "to control the media, the justice system and each other."
That "each other" line is key here. Because one of the central ingredients in ABC's formula for success is the power play between the hero and the heroine. They've got to strum that fine line between love and hate over and over again for the chemistry to build until we, the audience, feel it down in our bones.
And that's why these shows are so successful. That's why I keep tuning in.
You can take these character storylines, put them into any setting and make them work. But the key is to have interesting, vibrant characters that can inspire that emotion in audiences to keep us coming back for more. It is the desire, the tension and, yes, the sex that keep us intrigued time and time again and make ABC's female-leading shows some of the most successful efforts in television history.
Formula or no, Notorious is sure to soon have another thing in common with Scandal and The Catch: It will no doubt be a hit.
Notorious premieres Sept. 22 on ABC.
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