Wednesday, July 17, 2019

REVIEW: 'Pearson' - Jessica Pearson Begins Her New Job in the Chicago Mayor's Office in 'The Alderman'

USA's Pearson - Episode 1.01 "The Alderman"

Jessica starts her new job in the mayor's office. It's a new world, and a whole new power struggle.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of USA's Pearson.

"The Alderman" was written by Aaron Korsh & Daniel Arkin and directed by Kevin Bray

It's been well over a year since Suits aired the backdoor pilot that established the Chicago politics themed spinoff starring Gina Torres. The parent show has aired a full sixteen episode season since then. Meanwhile, Pearson basically acts as if it's the following day and Jessica has just started this new job in the mayor's office. That time continuity is wonky. And yet, this premiere does a solid job in showing how the themes are similar to Suits while also striving for something very different. The viewer shouldn't compare and contrast the shows during every episode. But the audience has seen Jessica in this world for a long time. And now, she presents in a completely different environment full of characters who may not be on the same page as her. On Suits, she was always fiercely loyal while still being strong and determined to protect her firm. But now, she yearns for something greater out of life. She has been at the top of the corporate world. She has made a name for herself and has the money to live comfortably. But now, she feels the calling to give back to the less fortunate and help the fellow members of her community. This show presents as being willing to tackle race in a very explicit and upfront way. It's not always subtle or effective. It shows the different ways people approach activism as well. Some believe that they have to enter the dysfunctional system in the hopes of changing it. Others see the value in remaining on the outside and making a ton of noise to get things done. Both sides have their pros and cons. They can often be pitted against each other. Angela looks at her cousin as someone who has never looked out for her community or her family. She shouldn't be trusted to do anything more now. And yet, Jessica is operating in the mayor's office with the intention of helping the lives of those around her. Of course, the series wants the audience to always be aware that this is a perilous situation for her to be in. Jeff is concerned about her safety and basically just leaves because he doesn't quite know how to be in a relationship with her right now. That's sudden and forced. It may just be a case of D.B. Woodside not being available as much as the creative team would have liked this year. There may be every intention of keeping Jessica and Jeff solid as a couple. But right now, the show wants to focus on what's exciting and new. The political world is different than the legal one. And yet, Jessica still bursts into rooms delivering the legal framework for how the city should manage the various issues that it's dealing with. Mayor Novak presented Jessica with a problem and wanted her input. Instead, she forced her way into the city attorney's office and made Keri get in line with the deal she put together even if it could disrupt a professional relationship that she has cultivated over a long period of time. Everyone may be a little too tentative to act. That's not how Jessica operates though. She will slyly move as a political operator in order to make a difference right now. That spirit is very compelling and infectious to watch. It makes it seem as if it is capable to make a difference in the world. It just takes the right kind of person who is motivated into addressing the issues of the world. But a large threat looms on the horizon with Jessica in the future destroying the evidence that Jeff provides to her here. That too may signal that things could get even more corrupt as her hands get dirty while trying to advocate for change. She may not be the savior she desperately wants to be. That too could be corrosive to her personal relationships. That will be the source of ongoing interest because the supporting ensemble really doesn't stand out in a notable way in the early going.