Winter TV is coming, guys, and it is bringing with it one of the season's most intriguing dramas, Shades of Blue starring Jennifer Lopez. I initially thought Shades of Blue was just typical cop show fair — you know, yet another procedural not worth getting excited about — but it has the potential to be so much more. Lopez unveiled the first full Shades of Blue trailer on her Facebook page over the weekend, and in the process introduced the world to her character, Harlee Santos. Harlee is unapologetically a dirty cop who feels a strong allegiance to her team, led by Ray Liotta's Matt. These are not good guys. This is a group of people with badges who are using their power for their own gain.
Early in the trailer, Harlee is made by the FBI and is forced to become an informant. She doesn't have much of a choice; it becomes clear that given all the corruption she has been a willing party to, there is no way she, a mom, would ever see her daughter again if she didn't cooperate with the agency. It looks fascinating, but I am not sure how eager the public is to see a show about blatantly dirty cops given the current political climate; the opening scene of the trailer in which a crime scene is staged is particularly unnerving. Still, there's no question that the role is an excellent one for Lopez.
Anti-heroine leads are rare on television. While the age of the anti-hero has been celebrated, women who do bad things are still largely thought of as straight-out villains. Lopez has the opportunity to make Harlee complex. Her allegiance to Matt already feels unwavering, which gives Lopez the chance to play up the darker side of the character. Even if she originally compromised her morality in order to provide for her daughter, Harlee is committed to Matt and the rest of the team. She isn't sharing information with the FBI because she feels a sense of remorse — she is sharing information because they are forcing her hand.
Given that Lopez is the executive producer of The Fosters , one of TV's most progressive series, and is also serving as a producer on Shades of Blue, I suspect she is hyper aware of the conversations currently taking place about police brutality and corruption. I trust she wouldn't have signed onto the project if it was going to be cliche or heavy-handed. From what I have seen so far, the series is more about diving deep into the concepts of power and morality.
The two-minute trailer shows Matt's capacity for anger. As much as he claims to care about Harlee and the rest of his team, he is clearly a bad man. The questions at the center of the trailer are how long will it take Harlee to see Matt for what he is, and then to see the truth about all of the wrong she has done? NBC could have a fascinating series on their hands, as done right, Shades of Blue could very well be an engaging drama with the potential to comment on the real world in a meaningful way.
Lopez hasn't been in front of the camera as much recently as she has been working behind it, but that too could end up being a bonus for the series. As Harlee, Lopez is conflicted, dark, and calculating, and at least judging from the trailer, she disappears into the character. Based on what I've seen so far, I want to see more of Harlee, and I suspect you will too, once the show premieres on Jan. 14.