ABC’s For the People, one of the newest Shonda shows, follows an ensemble of young lawyers – consisting of 6 characters: three women and three men – as they embark on a their careers through the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Federal Court, aka “The Mother Court,” on both the defense and prosecution sides. All three women are written as ambitious, intelligent, and layered – they have varying backgrounds, relationships, and goals. The men on the other hand, while also ambitious (to a point) and have varying backgrounds, seem pretty cliche. As of right now, only four episodes in, 2/3 of these men suck.
Seth (played by Ben Rappaport) started off the series as Allison’s boyfriend. In the Pilot, they fought and broke up after being on opposite sides of a case. It was pretty clear from the beginning that Allison was the better lawyer, and over the next three episodes Seth just continued to mope and whine. He’s the “underdog” story of the prosecutors and in the most recent episode, “The Library Fountain”, Allison had to remind him that he left to prove himself, to “be a man”.
Also on the prosecution side is the highly ambitious Leonard Knox (Regé-Jean Page), the alpha male who steals cases he wants and parades his mother, Senator Knox (Anne-Marie Johnson), in hopes of earning favors. In addition to stealing cases, his character is often aggressive and manipulative, which is why his relationship with his colleague Kate Littlejohn (Susannah Flood) is so surprising.
Kate Littlejohn is the only female we’re following on the prosecution team and is the epitome of Type-A. She’s meticulous, calculating, and bordering OCD. Her lack of interest in relationships, let alone friendships, makes her all the more interesting. It feels rare to see a female character on television who prioritizes career at the expense of companionship, although its also feels familiar to a Shonda show which would break down “her icy exterior” as these shows often do. Already, the show has begun to crack that wall with Knox’s attempt to befriend her – again seemingly uncharacteristic for a character that reads like a womanizing bro-tastic archetype. His interest in her feels like the overused “thrill of the chase that eventually turns into real feelings” plot-line. Something we no longer need in a #TimesUp world.
On the Defense side, BFFs Allison (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Sandra Bell (Britt Robertson) are the most interesting relationship (aside from the bosses) in the entire series. They’re joined by the only male character that I have yet to find annoying or repulsive, but I assume that’s because we’ve barely dug into his story. Over the first four episodes, we’ve seen very little of Jay Simmons (Wesam Keesh) even though we had an episode that dove a bit deeper into his world. His story may end up another cliche plot, but one can only hope that For The People tries to give us something new with these male characters or just get rid of them altogether.
For the People, Tuesdays on ABC.