Thursday, November 20, 2014

NBC's 'State of Affairs' breaks new ground

Katherine Heigl, famed for her five-year portrayal of Izzie Stevens on Grey's Anatomy (let alone numerous romantic comedy flicks thereafter), has returned to television, this time in a lead role on NBC's new politicial thriller State of Affairs. Heigl stars as Charleston Tucker, a CIA anaylist working for the president. And who co-stars as the fictional President of the United States? Alfre Woodard. Not only is she female, but also African American; diversity times two. It's like NBC is hoping State of Affairs is taking place in some parallel universe where things in American politics progress as the general society hopes it will in real life.

The series premiere, which aired this past Monday, gave a promising outlook for what's ahead. The action, however, was extremely fast paced and lost me at time. Fast paced action is definitely a plus side for a series like this, but Woodard had minimal airtime in what is supposed to be a series premiere, where usually the entire main cast is introduced to the viewers. But, I digress. Most television critics gave State of Affairs a negative review, some of which were understandable, but several of the storylines introduced in the hour-long premiere definitely pave way for whatever the people behind the scenes have planned. Overall, I'd give the premiere an 8 out of 10. Heigl gave a great performance as a CIA anaylist who has to work hard and then appear in front of the President of the United States, sometimes having to put on somewhat of a smile when really, there is nothing to smile about in the world.

Heigl, who is known for being bold and "hard to work with", has spoken out several times, clarifying why she has spoken out publicly in the past on certain topics. In 2008, she refused to submit herself for the Primetime Emmy Awards, citing insufficient material on Grey's Anatomy. In 2010, she had several more issues with Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes, at one point not even showing up for work. She then requested to be let out of her contract early, not to augment her growing film career, but to spend time with family. So it was no surprise when, in 2012, Heigl stated she wanted to come back to Grey's to wrap up Izzie's story and Rhimes basically said in a respectful way, "No way in hell." Recently, before the premiere of State of Affairs, Rhimes blasted Heigl while describing her "no assholes" policy. She stated: "There are no Heigls in this situation…I don't put up with bullshit or nasty people. I don't have time for it." Long story short, Heigl has gotten a reputation for being hard to work with and, according to Shonda Rhimes, an asshole. Which is why every time she has opened her mouth to clarify anything she has said in the past, she struggles to be taken seriously. In response to a fan who said they'd heard rumors that Heigl is "very rude", she said:

"Yeah I've heard those too….honestly I don't think I am…nothing makes me more uncomfortable than confrontation or hurting someones feelings and I would never, ever, actively do so on purpose. Of course just like any human being I've made mistakes and unwittingly or carelessly spoken or acted but I always try to make any wrong right. That doesn't mean I won't stand up for myself by drawing boundaries and asking to be treated kindly and respectfully but I don't do that with any rude or unkind intentions just with the same strength and honestly I think every one of us is entitled to."

As a self-proclaimed Katherine Heigl fan (which may or may not affect my vision on this situation), I don't quite think it matters what she did in the past behind the scenes of another show on another network. This is State of Affairs, not Grey's Anatomy, and Heigl deserves to be given the chance of any other lead actress on television. Half the actors in Hollywood probably stir up trouble behind the scenes, yet we only hear about a rare few who had the guts to go public with it. So yeah, maybe Katherine Heigl can be a little bold and hard to deal with at times. But now she's on a new show, on a different network. So as Indina Menzel says, "Let it gooo!"

State of Affairs airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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