“Family Business” opens with another soon to be finished case that the audience hasn’t seen, but are not too interested in. Because we don’t have any plot-based knowledge, these cases give us more personality clues to the characters instead of bringing us along for the ride. The episode really begins when Michelle’s brother, J.T., introduces the case. All of the Maxwell children are cops, as their father was chief of police, but J.T. was bored and quit. Michelle finds out he is in town when he is arrested for fighting a speeding ticket on the spot, and after being bailed out, we learn he is a rouge personal investigator as well. Having not taken the test to be licensed, J.T. pries his way into King and Maxwell’s lives and asks for help. Suddenly, all three are on the case.
As interesting as the case was, what is more interesting over these past few weeks is how traditional this show is turning out to be when handling gender roles. Now, I’m not talking about Michelle barefoot and pregnant while her husband goes off in suit and tie to work – or the two of them fighting the winters while their sons fight for an iron throne – this isn’t Mad Men or Game of Thrones. I’m talking about the modern procedural drama gender codes.
Let’s skip past the butch women in pant suits and get to 2013 where women are walking in heals and chasing down suspects while seducing men without even knowing it. Even if this isn’t realistic, this is the typical role for these shows and we’re going to go with it for King & Maxwell.
Michelle Maxwell is inside this stereotype. She’s the female lead and partner to Sean King. Out of everyone on the show, these two are the focus (if you already didn’t get that from the title of the show itself). And when it comes to the emotional and connecting moments on the show, she is the stronger one. She can see the sides of the suspects or the victims that Sean blows over. Also, when it comes to Edgar, she understands how to get things across to him easier than Sean can. It’s been typical of women to be known to be better with emotional sides of things; their motherly side coming out. And this is how this show is running. She has the womanly side, but she is still intellectually quicker than Sean (something very common of modern female characters). She’s the best of both worlds – still that woman that all men like (supposedly), but can stand on her own. She knows what Sean is doing wrong and corrects him. Also, Michelle had a perfect childhood: Daddy’s sweetheart – until she started dating and argued with him daily. However, bringing in the 2013, Michelle can kick anyone out of the way if they threaten her or Sean. If you want to see this type of character outside of this show, look at: Castle, Covert Affairs, Rizzoli & Isles (if both of them merge together), and a handful more.
Sean, on the other hand, is the typical male in 2013. He can protect Michelle if he needs to, even though she is the one getting him out of that type of situation. He isn’t as quick to find things, and needs Michelle to help him. He gets confused when he can’t figure out something and needs his partner to do it with him. Also, when Edgar finds something, Sean thinks he can do it too even though he was the one that asked for help in the first place.
This type of character is also on TV a lot. Take a look at Richard Castle from Castle. Take Sean’s name away from the character above and tweak a few things and you have that character instead. If you don’t watch Castle, look at Bones, Law & Order, etc. They have at least one of these types of men on those shows.
Although these character traits are repeats, the blend perfectly. Sean can do the role-playing when they need it and Michelle can steer him away from trouble from the car. Michelle can also remember things like their gun while Sean can remember names. And when it comes to the moment of truth – when they are really stuck in a bad situation – both characters get to the same wavelength and work together. They merge into one brain and get the job done with everyone out alive. This is what will make them a perfect partner when they reach the romantic aspect; however, those steps in their relationship will bring on a whole new slew of problems as well.
This one aspect of the show, the relationship between King and Maxwell, might also be the one thing that holds them down in the future. With every established fall show coming back in September, this old plot might get boring. Because this is a summer show – and will have a longer hiatus than fall series – this might affect how memorable it is once the stream of series comes back in September.
By putting these personalities front and center in this episode, we’re moving into a more established part of the series instead of a new show learning to walk. Early episodes are always shaky. King & Maxwell is learning how to stand on its own on TNT and shake off those training wheels. This happens when characters become characters on a show. They become fuller and more complex. This show is finding its way.
I am enjoying King & Maxwell. It is a refreshing look this summer. There isn’t anything too heavy (yet). It is nice to sit down and watch something that has enough plot to entertain an audience, but not enough to make everyone want to throw out their TV and buy a dictionary. However, these thoughts might not be what the networks, producers, and television executives are looking for. We’ll see if it can generate enough ratings and buzz to keep it afloat for renewal.