Television

Television Offers a Summer Crime Wave

Take the edge off the heat with some fun violence.

|

'American Gothic'
'American Gothic' / CBS

American Gothic. CBS. Wednesday, June 22, 10 p.m.

Queen of the South. USA. Thursday, June 23, 10 p.m.

In summer, a young studio executive's fancy turns to crime. At least that's the case this year. While the past few summers' TV schedules have been populated with space aliens and post-apocalyptic mutants, the networks are now testing the hypothesis that the fascination of vacation audiences with steaming viscera does not necessarily require that it be tossed around by extraterrestrials. Plain old narco-traffickers and serial killers will do.

Not coincidentally, this week's TV fare includes exactly that. CBS' American Gothic features a family discovering that it's not merely dysfunctional, but homicidal. And USA's Queen of the South is a sanguinary shattering of the glass ceiling in the cocaine business: a chick-lit version of Scarface.

The family in question in American Gothic (which is totally unrelated to the cult-hit series of the same name) is the Hawthornes, a collection of Boston bluebloods so wholesomely photogenic and accomplished that the construction-magnate dad, opening the door as everybody arrives for a family reunion, exclaims, "Did somebody order a Norman Rockwell painting?"

On closer inspection, however, this portrait looks a little more like—well, you know. Or even something by Goya.

Mayoral candidate Alison (Juliet Rylance, The Knick) is ruthlessly ambitious. Her syndicated-cartoonist brother Cam (Justin Chatwin, Shameless) is a maybe-recovering junkie with a kid (Gabriel Bateman) whose artistic bent runs to drawings of dismembered corpses. The only reason their jittery schoolteacher sister Kerry (Canadian TV actress Meghan Heffern) isn't on meds is that she's trying to get pregnant. And let's not mention reclusive eldest brother Garrett (Antony Starr), because nobody else does; he stormed off in a rage 14 years ago and hasn't been seen since. Even his photo has been removed from the wall.

What distinguishes all this domestic dysfunction from a Real Housewives franchise is the discovery, by a couple of family members puttering around in the garage during the reunion, of evidence suggesting that somebody in the household is linked to a Boston serial killer who disappeared—can you guess?—14 years ago. Everybody's a suspect, including mom (Virginia Madsen), the coldest fish this side of Mrs. Paul's, and dad (Jamey Sheridan, Arrow), seemingly amiable, but come on, when's the last time you saw a Hollywood construction-company owner who wasn't some kind of soulless Mafia bastard?

American Gothic is not going to redefine the concept of television. (Though it may cause you to inspect kid's kindergarten artwork a little more closely; is that red thing just a missed crayon stroke, or a red-hot poker being plunged into his teacher's eye?) But it is a chillingly enjoyable whodunnit for a lazy summer evening. The biggest danger is that the ratings are good and CBS tries to extend it past the 13 episodes scheduled for this summer. There's a reason Agatha Christie never tried to turn Murder on the Orient Express into a TV series.

I don't know if Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the Spanish novelist who wrote La Reina del Sur, had TV in mind when he was composing it. But his book went on to be one of the most monstrously successful Spanish-language telenovelas of all time, a giant hit not only throughout Latin America but even in such unlikely places as Hungary and Albania. (Its 2011 run in the United States brought in the largest audience in the Telemundo network's history.) Among its biggest fans was the Mexican drug lord El Chapo, whose flirty email correspondence with star Kate del Castillo has drawn poor reviews from Mexican cops.

Castillo isn't around for this American remake from Telemundo's corporate cousin USA. Instead, her rags-to-cocaine-riches role is filled by Brazilian actress Alice Braga (I Am Legend). She plays Teresa Mendoza, who starts out as the armpiece of a Mexican cartel pilot and winds up as the boss, dispelling, in the process, all the shamefully patriarchal thinking that women can't torture, murder, and oversample their own product as well as anybody with a Y chromosome. "I'm the new proof that the American dream is alive and well," she boasts in voiceover narration. "The trick is to stay alive long enough to enjoy the fruits of this labor."

Like those sentences, a lot of Queen of the South's dialogue is faux-noirishly over-arch. And its too-frequent, too-lush romantic scenes betray its novela roots. Much of the time, the show plays as an As the World Turns remake in which the cast has been issued Spanish accents and AK-47s.

But the action scenes, when the come, are surprisingly effective. And I look forward to a medical-drama spinoff based on Queen of the South's occasional forays into (alleged) Mexican folk remedies. If not for the damn AMA cartel, we'd have been able to buy tequila-and-scorpion-venom poultices long ago.

Fairness Doctrine addendum: Having mentioned Kate del Castillo's BFF El Chapo, it should be noted that Braga's family has its own notorious fan. Her aunt is Sonia Braga, the sexually adventurous wife of the 1976 Brazilian film Doña Flor and Her Two Husbands. Jimmy Carter was said to be quite smitten with her performance. Could she have triggered one of his most amusing gaffes?

NEXT: School Will Not Expel 7-Year-Old Who Brought Nerf Guns to School

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

    1. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $94/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $14000 just working on the laptop for a few hours. I work through this Website.. Read more on this site._____________ http://www.earnmore9.com

    2. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $12k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this Website…
      For more details visit at.________________ http://www.earnmore9.com

    1. My co-worker’s step-mother makes $97 hourly on the laptop . She has been out of work for six months but last month her paycheck was $14108 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
      I work through this Website.. See here._______ http://www.earnmore9.com

  2. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://Youtube.Nypost55.com

  3. I am making $89/hour working from home. I never thought that it was legitimate but my best friend is earning $10 thousand a month by working online, that was really surprising for me, she recommended me to try it. just try it out on the following website.

    ??? http://www.NetNote70.com

  4. I’ll never waste my time with anything from ABC-CBS-NBC: These loser broadcast networks produce boring, re-cycled, twaddle.

    You want crime? Go watch Breaking Bad….Peaky Blinders….Boardwalk Empire…The Wire.

  5. Evan . if you, thought Gladys `s story is impossible… on saturday I got a new Alfa Romeo since getting a check for $5834 recently and-in excess of, ten thousand this past-munth . it’s definitly the best work Ive ever done . I began this 4 months ago and almost immediately started bringing in at least $80.. p/h . you could look here …

    ………………. http://www.MaxPost30.com

  6. my friend’s mom makes $73 hourly on the laptop . She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $18731 just working on the laptop for a few hours…..

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ???????

    http://www.Reportmax20.com

  7. Now a days most of the students and adults are addicted to television and because of this reason students are not interest in reading books. Because of lack of reading they are struggling to write research papers. Writing and creative ideas are very essential to write research papers. Now Research Paper Writing Services Reviews will help to write best papers.

  8. better browsing will give the better result and genuine contents for the readers. They ought to incline their training appropriately in light of the fact that instruction is the main thing that can make the future brilliant. All this has led to students to ask the writers can you write my paper for cheap?

  9. Make 5000 bucks every month… Start doing online computer-based work through our day37 website and start getting that much needed extra income every month….. You’ll get trained by us, no prior experience needed… Find out more about it on following address
    check this link …………………………………………. http://www.social36.com

  10. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.selfcash10.com

  11. I left my office-job and now I am getting paid 98 usd hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out what i do…

    =======> http://www.CashPay60.Com

  12. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??.

    =========[]> http://maxincome20.com

  13. uptil I saw the bank draft four $8760 , I be certain …that…my sister woz actually bringing in money part time from there labtop. . there neighbour had bean doing this 4 only about eighteen months and resently cleard the depts on there home and bourt a top of the range Chrysler ….

    Clik This Link inYour Browser….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  14. before I looked at the draft saying $9453 , I have faith that my mother in law woz like truley erning money part time at there computar. . there mums best friend haz done this 4 less than 14 months and just repayed the dept on their apartment and purchased a brand new Honda . read here …..

    Please click the link below
    ==========
    http://www.selfcash10.com

  15. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.SelfCash10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.