You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TCA: ‘Undercovers’ takes chances from the start

Undercovers_ontheair2 Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September.

In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and Brit native Gugu Mbatha-Raw – the Warner Bros. skein is taking a worthwhile gamble.

According to exec producer Josh Reims, the casting wasn’t originally intended to be groundbreaking, but it just might turn out that way.

Nbc_ontheair “We weren’t going to hire two black people because they were black,” Reims said, who co-wrote the pilot with J.J. Abrams and was a member of the “Felicity” writing team. “We didn’t consider that we were revolutionizing TV, but we do realize it’s a big deal. We all wish it wasn’t such a big deal that two black characters were on a major TV show on a major TV network, but that’s the way it is now.”

Added Kodjoe: “It’s important recognize it’s not the norm, though it should be. The world is diverse and we come in all different sizes and shades. It’s important that we get a chance to be trailblazers, door-openers or whatever you want to call it. Let’s inspire people to regard it as normal. It’s not taking a chance, just being creative.”

Having a black lead isn’t anything new on the comedy side. Fox had lots of success with “The Bernie Mac Show” and, of course, “Cosby” is one of the biggest sitcoms of all time. And for dramas, there’s been dozens of cop and hospital shows that have had black and white main characters.

But two black leads as the faces of the show is definitely cutting edge for broadcast. On HBO’s critically applauded series “The Wire,” many of the drama’s main characters were black, adding to the rich cultural fabric of the show. Cable certainly has the opportunity to be more risk-taking than the broadcasters.

If “Undercovers” reaches a second season, the racial casting will become a forgotten story. That’s a good reason as any to hope it succeeds.

More TV

  • Joy Ann Reid portrait

    Joy Reid Pushes Back Against Brewing Blog Controversy

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

  • BuzzFeed logo

    Netflix Picks Up BuzzFeed Docu-Series About BuzzFeed News Reporters

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

  • Bret Easton Ellis' 'Less Than Zero'

    Bret Easton Ellis' 'Less Than Zero' in Development as Hulu Series

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

  • PBS logo

    PBS SoCal, KCETLink Agree to Merge

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

  • Sky Withdraws Recommendation of Fox Takeover

    Sky Withdraws Recommendation of Fox Takeover After Comcast Offer

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

  • viacom logo

    International TV Growth, Paramount Gains Power Viacom Q2 Earnings

    Whether “Undercovers” ultimately becomes an NBC staple for years is still undetermined, but clearly the show will make headlines before the pilot even airs in September. In searching for as large an audience as possible, it’s rare in television to go out of the mainstream, and with two black leads – German-born Boris Kodjoe and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content