'Reckless' could use a little less recklessness

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Image Credit: Fred Norris/CBS

Much like viewers want to watch Christmas movies in December, June is the time for beaches, minimal clothing, and sweat. And by those requirements alone, Reckless will meet your summer quota.

Set in Charleston, South Carolina, Reckless follows two lawyers through all of the town’s scandals. Lawyer no. 1 is good old Southern boy Roy, played by Cam Gigandet, who drives his boat to work each day, knows how to rock a suit, and says things like “bless your heart.” Then there’s Jamie, the Yankee lawyer who’s new in town and favors short dresses and high heels. Add in some crooked cops and a city-wide sex scandal, and it certainly sounds like you’ve found your new summer show. Unfortunately, however, Reckless falls short in its delivery.

It’s obvious that Reckless wants to be a new fun, sexy drama, but it’s also obvious that by trying too hard, it misses the mark. Shawn Hatosy plays Terry McCandless, the dirty cop at the center of the season-long scandal. Instead of presenting a more-or-less upbeat and entertaining scandal (à la Defiance), things take a very dark turn in the first episode, when it’s revealed that multiple cops might have had sex with a fellow officer one after the other. And things only get worse when we find out that the victim has no memory of that night and was probably drugged. From there, the show continues to push things just a bit too far—Terry has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There’s definitely a simpler way to make someone bad, and there’s a better way to make a bad situation something that’s enjoyable to watch.

The other big element of the show is the sexual tension between rival lawyers Roy and Jamie. After Lee Anne, the female cop who unknowingly slept with a number of her coworkers, is fired for sending pictures of herself on the department’s email, she decides to sue. As the new city attorney, Roy is tasked with representing the police, while Jamie takes on Lee Anne’s case. But even though they’re enemies in the courtroom, Roy and Jamie have chemistry outside of it as well. And for most of the pilot, their chemistry is enjoyable and subtle enough. However, after the two of them sit down to watch a sex tape from Lee Anne’s case and find themselves turned on, things become a little less subtle and a little more uncomfortable. We get it. We don’t need it spelled out for us that we are supposed to root for them to become a couple. (That being said, most viewers will probably still root for at least one sweaty hookup.)

Where this show really struggles is in its slow, Southern drawl. Yes, South Carolina is charming and slow-paced, but that doesn’t mean the show has to be. And when did South Carolina lose its sense of humor? If you’re going to take your time spelling something out, at least make viewers laugh along the way.

The Reckless pilot does end with a twist that will pique the interest of some. Plus, it’s worth mentioning the show’s genius: There will be at least one shirtless glimpse of Gigandet in every episode. But there’s a difference between being sexy and trying to be sexy, and with villains who are blatantly bad and forced sexual tension, this show could benefit from some subtle complexity. It could also benefit from some Scandal-esque pacing.

So perhaps the solution is for the show to stop taking its title so seriously. A little more structure and a little less recklessness might be just what South Carolina needs.

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