If you loved Jennifer Lopez’s portrayal of law enforcement agents in movies like Out of Sight and Angel Eyes, you’re in luck! JLo’s about to pick up the badge again in her new NBC crime drama Shades of Blue. Here’s everything you need to know about the series before it premieres next week.
1. The title refers to the ambiguity that plagues law enforcement all too often
We tend to trust that our law enforcers are also law abiders. But what happens when members of the force start engaging in “creative police work”? Such is the premise of Shades of Blue, a show in which NYC police officers aren’t portrayed as criminal masterminds but as well-intentioned, hard-working people who sometimes make the difficult call to bend, break or manipulate the law to work to their advantage.
2. Lopez’s Harlee Santos is a corrupt cop turned FBI informant
JLo, naturally, is the star of Shades of Blue. Her character Harlee Santos has spent years justifying her “creative police work” and she doesn’t see anything wrong with fudging the facts of an investigation in order to serve the greater good. But her ethics are about to be challenged in a major way: At the start of the series, she’s entrapped by the FBI, who use her as an informant to learn more about her colleagues and their corruption. But where do Santos’ loyalties ultimately lie?
3. Ray Liotta is playing the bad guy, naturally
It says a lot about someone when gangster Henry Hill in Goodfellas is the most sympathetic role on their résumé. But such is the career of Ray Liotta, so it’s not going to come as a shock to anyone that he’s playing Bill Wozniak, the corrupt official who sets Santos’ crisis into motion. Even so, as the title suggests, things may not end up being so clear-cut. There may be some shades of gray — err, blue — to Wozniak, and he just might end up being a more sympathetic figure than the trailer suggests.
4. It’s as much a family drama as it is a crime drama
Harlee Santos is a single mother, and from the brief shots of her daughter Christine in the trailer, it’s clear that Harlee will be willing to do anything to protect her daughter. But, in that effort, will she end up placing Christine in even more danger?
5. Prepare for lots of violence
Unlike other models and pop stars, JLo’s never been afraid to get grungy on camera. A few months back, during production, the Daily Mail snapped some set photos on the day when Lopez and Liotta were filming the aftermath of a car crash. Both look awfully beat up, and though no context is provided, it seems likely this crash will be a pivotal moment in Season 1.
6. Lopez never intended to star in Shades of Blue herself
Shades of Blue is the latest project incubated by Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions. Her company, which she cofounded with producer Benny Medina, may be best known for ABC Family’s The Fosters. Like that acclaimed family drama, Lopez initially envisioned herself as the producer of Shades of Blue, not the star.
But everything changed when Lopez and Medina entered their pitch meeting with the network suits at NBC. As she recalled in a recent interview: “We pitched this [to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt] — not with me as the star, but just as a great project that we wanted to produce. And they bought it in the room, and they were like, ‘Why are you not playing this role?’ And I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know. Maybe I should.'” Once Lopez committed to being the star, it was a done deal.
7. Santos has more humanity than the average antihero
Part of the reason Lopez was so attracted to the role was because of the realistic and honest nature of Santos’ journey as a hero — or antihero, really. “It’s not the typical heroine,” Lopez explained. “Like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna root for her ’cause all she does is good.’ No, I’m gonna root for her because she’s human and I understand her struggle. I understand what it is to sometimes make a questionable choice that, in the long run, is the best thing for your child or for your life or for your survival.”
Shades of Blue premieres on NBC on Jan. 7 at 9pm/8c. For more hints as to what’s coming for JLo and co., check out the trailer below.