ABC’s new legal drama The Fix has the potential to go either way in what is essentially a contemporary retelling of the O.J. Simpson case.
This recap of The Fix Episode 1, “Pilot”, contains spoilers.
Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. The Fix, ABC’s new legal drama, concerns Los Angeles District Attorney Maya Travis (Robin Tunney), who disappeared into the countryside to live a quiet life of organic farming when, eight years prior, she failed to convict a black, famous actor, Sevvy Johnson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), of the murder of his wife and her friend. She’s drawn back into a present-day case by her former lover and fellow attorney Matthew Collier (Adam Rayner) because the same suspect has supposedly killed again; this time his much younger girlfriend.
I know what you’re thinking. A black superstar gets away with murder despite overwhelming incriminating evidence, and reoffends, giving the prosecution another crack at putting him away? Some of the details might be different, but this is unashamedly the O.J. Simpson case. Thus it should come as no surprise that Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor for the state of California during Simpson’s trial, serves as the show’s executive producer alongside Liz Craft and Sarah Fain. The plot is basically a do-over; a chance, albeit a fictitious one, to have justice be done.
The problem with that is clear: All the suspense of The Fix comes from not knowing whether or not Sevvy is guilty. In the pilot episode alone he flits back and forth between criminal mastermind and completely innocent victim, and the show is clearly setting up other potential suspects. It wouldn’t be a good whodunit if it didn’t, obviously, but if The Fix is, as has been suggested, some kind of overdue catharsis for Clark, then are audiences going to buy into the red herrings?
Time will tell. And then there’s the race element to consider, which The Fix only seems interested in cursorily acknowledging, despite it being such a prominent factor in the Simpson case. (Voting polls were very clearly divided along racial lines.) But you can’t retell this story in 2019 without better considering the optics and the political climate; especially not if you’re going to casually imply that Sevvy’s eight-years-prior not-guilty verdict was basically an attempt to make up for historical racial injustice.
Then again, The Fix‘s politics are still much more amenable than those of Fox’s competing legal drama, Proven Innocent, which when held up against ABC’s show seems even worse. Bolstered by Tunney and Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the leading roles, The Fix at least has the benefit of being able to be taken seriously, even if parts of it are a little corny and on-the-nose. The supporting actors do solid work too, despite most being thinly-drawn, and special mention should go to Scott Cohen for his take on the implausibly-named defense attorney Ezra Wolf.
After the premiere, The Fix can conceivably go in one of two directions. It can hone in on how these accusations effect not only Sevvy but his children and community, and explore not just what he may have done but also what he represents. Or it can become silly and self-indulgent. At this point, there’s no real way to tell, but I’ll be tuning in next week and reporting back on the latest details. We’ll figure this out together.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.