Kathy Bates and Terrible Scripts

TV failure of the week: Harry’s Law.

Let me preface this by saying I love Kathy Bates. I so wanted Harry’s Law (her latest TV show) to succeed. Mostly because of her, because she is different from what pop culture sells us. Her looks are unconventional, her career has been eclectic and interesting and there are not enough women on screen that deviate from the cookie cutter model. So I have been watching not just with interest but actually rooting for the show’s success.

No more. I am done making concessions.

At first I gave it the benefit of the doubt, in spite of my strong urge to run at the sight of “a bunch of wealthy and educated White people save the ghetto” narrative. I thought well, maybe it can go somewhere from here. And there’s Kathy Bates.

Then it got progressively worse with more non-original “White person redeems minorities” plots and subplots and I cringed so much. But I think I finally reached the tipping point: the trans* fail in the last episode sent me running for the hills.

The name calling, the misgendering, the alienation, the othering “¦ ugh. No, there are tons of other shows that already do that. And even though they tried to end in an uplifting moment when “White slightly dorky but successful” lawyer treats the woman in question with respect, the damage was done for me. Because all the other shit was left unchallenged and I cannot erase with one moment of semi-appropriate dialogue the other 40 minutes of rhetoric fail.

It looks like I will have to wait until better writers take an interest in Ms. Bates. But for now, I won’t be holding my breath.

Editor’s note – RLP generously shares content from her tumblr with us each week.  You can find this post in its original context here.

5 replies on “Kathy Bates and Terrible Scripts”

Kathy Bates and Christopher McDonald (who plays showboating attorney Thomas “Tommy” Jefferson) are the best things in this show. They’re the only reasons I still watch the show, though it’s quite painful to see such great acting being undermined by the weak premise and often inane story lines.

One episode stood out for me though – the one where a group of Tanzanian albinos sought refuge in the US. Both Bates and McDonald gave gut-wrenching performances, as did the actors playing the Tanzanians. Even the actors playing the judge and the prosecutor were really good. That episode was an example of what this show could be.

I really wanted to like this show, I reallly did. I love law, David E. Kelly, and Kathy Bates, so what could go wrong? But when I watched it, it seemed so preachy and pandering-y (not a word, I know). Also, it really annoyed me that there was this upscale shoe store in a bad part of town. Well no wonder the shoe store failed.

I tried for about four episodes. It can take a show a little while to find its footing, I figured. And Kathy Bates is awesome, surely she wouldn’t be stuck in total crap. Apparently, she is stuck in total crap.
From what I understand, it’s a hit. So there’s not even much hope of an early cancellation so Ms. Bates could get a show on Showtime or TNT where they at least try to write good roles for women of a certain age.

Leave a Reply