Gang Related could be the best show in the world, and that wouldn't change the fact that the lack of hyphen in the title is the most infuriating thing in the entire world. Followed by hyperbole. People insult titles like Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23 (R.I.P.) and Trophy Wife (R.I.P.) and Terriers (R.I.P.), but at least those titles didn't remove a hyphen for no discernible reason. Also, those shows were much better than Gang Related. Let's rap about that, shall we?
Gang Related stars Bosley from ABC's classic Charlie's Angels reboot (R.I.P.) as a super cop and Gang Task Force (or GTF, an acronym I definitely spent too much time giggling at, like an adult) newbie. But that's not all. He also works for Javier Acosta (played by Cliff Curtis, who gained like 60 pounds for this role), lifelong father figure and one of the biggest gang leaders in all of Los Angeles! Dilemma! Bosley's caught between his new family—complete with Terry O'Quinn as his new father figure—and his duties to his old one. After all, Javier did put Bosley through the military and the police academy specifically to have someone on the inside. The deepest of deep undercover.
And according to Carlos (Javier's obnoxious son who's not Jay Hernandez), Bosley isn't the only Javier has playing that game. Who could it be? Is it someone else on the team?
Could be it be RZA? I keep seeing synopses for this pilot saying that, in the aftermath of his partner not!Marc Blucas' murder (that dude was both obnoxious and looked like a poor man's Riley Finn, so he had to go), Bosley teams up with a veteran cop (RZA) to take down the crime in the city. Veteran cop RZA? When did that happen? They came across as equals to me. Also, there wasn't so much "teaming up" as there was Bosley being assigned a new partner and then making a "joke" about all black people being able to sing (a joke that this show has not earned). So no, RZA's probably not also working for Javier.
Could it be the lady cop from MTV's Underemployed? IMDB says her character's name is Vee, but I am currently looking for a nickname that combines her three skills—sexpionage, sniping, and planting evidence—into one. See, the evidence planting ruins the alliteration, then it makes the whole nicknaming process very difficult. I mean, I could start calling her Vic (because of the "Vee" of it all, not because of the sexpionage or sniping) Mackey, but I think I'll put that one up for a vote before I let it stick. Vee's certainly shifty enough to be working a long con, but planting evidence on Carlos would imply a loose cannon situation.
Could it be my beloved Han from the Fast and Furious franchise, who might actually end up being the stealth best part of the show? I hope not, because, like I said, he might actually be the best part of the show. It's probably Vee.
Gang Related's very first case of the week is a mash-up of getting a new type of cocaine (Fish Scale cocaine!) off the streets while also avenging the death of not!Marc Blucas (by the aforementioned Carlos). Funny how those two things kind of cross into each other, isn't it? Also, I don't presume to know a lot about cocaine—or any hard drugs, really—but I feel like Fish Scale is a dumb name for a type of cocaine. Or a type of anything.
Captain Terry O'Quinn decides that the GTF is going to be doing things a little differently now, and you can probably guess where this is going. Instead of going after the gang bosses directly to put an end to the whole operation, they're going to go after their families and friends first. Really hitting them where it hurts. So if you're a civilian with even a tangential relation to any of these baddies, you're screwed. GTF ain't nothing to fuck with.
With this new agenda in place, Bosley makes sure to warn the family, especially Jay Hernandez, who: 1. Is his best friend, 2. Is a legitimate businessman despite his family ties (his thing is all about starting a bank?), and 3. Stole Bosley's girl. Early in the episode, Bosley tells the story of his true love, Sylvia, who basically dropped him after he did his two tours in the army. Twist: It looks like she dropped him for his best friend. I mean, Bosley apparently had a tattoo of this girl's name on this arm at one point, but Jay Hernandez must have figured it was never that serious, because he has no problem proposing to her right in front of him. That's just life being gang related (but not gang-related), I suppose. I can't foresee any future problems arising from this situation.
Complications ensue, as they are wont to do when you're living a double life, and in order to keep up appearances but also help the family, Bosley has to capture Carlos, get rid of the murder weapon (that's definitely more than morally grey), and give Carlos something to give the cops to get immunity. That "something" happens to be the location of the Fish Scale. Bosley makes sure Javier and the family remain in the clear while the GTF still gets to stop some bad guys. Everybody wins! Maybe gang relation isn't such a bad thing, after all.
That is, until Jay Karnes shows up, courtesy of Internal Affairs. Something about not!Marc Blucas' death doesn't add up, and he's going to get to the bottom of it, even if it means taking Bosley down. Why can't IA ever just let these corrupt cops live their lives? Jay Karnes enlists the help of Terry O'Quinn's ADA daughter (I can only imagine how tense it is at Thanksgiving), and oh boy, talk about a conflict of interest. Also, I am willing to put money on her banging it out with Bosley before the season ends, and I will put even more money on her developing feelings for him after that. What can I say? Sexpionage becoming something more is one of my favorite tropes.
As you can probably tell, Gang Related suffers from being a facsimile of its predecessors. The show has potential, but Fastlane (R.I.P.), The Shield (R.I.P.), The Chicago Code (R.I.P.), Sons of Anarchy, and even The Fast and The Furious (the movie) have tackled the subject matter better. And Chicago P.D. is currently doing the same thing, even if its stance on police corruption is questionable, at best.
Say Gang Related goes on for five seasons. Do you really think Bosley is going to choose the gang over the cops? This isn't cable. This is Fox. Being gang related isn't going to change the fact that the protagonist is going to choose the side of good (or the side of changing his name and getting the hell out of town). So why should we care?
The cast and crew may be up to task, which can work to mask a lot of the problems for a short time, but eventually Gang Related will need to show that it's something more. Also, being a "gritty new action-drama" on Fox—when this show's material obviously longs to be on FX—is ultimately going to make it come across as tame. Maybe I expect more from a showrunner whose pedigree it the Fast and Furious franchise. Literally more. Constant excess, hyper-stylization even. Maybe I just want McG to be involved.
Maybe the missing hyphen can fix all of this.
[Image via Fox]
Morning After is a new home for television discussion online, brought to you by Gawker. Read more here.