ABC indulges in the seedier side of life in the upcoming crime series "Red Widow." Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg ("Dexter") and star Radha Mitchell ("Silent Hill" "Pitch Black) spoke at a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour about their new series.
The series is an adaptation of a Dutch series ("Penoza"), revolving around a newly widowed mother forced to engage in the organized crime work that led to her husband's death. Mitchell credits the cable model of shorter seasons and fewer breaks with creating a more exciting, compelling story without the padding of a 22 episode order.
"This is a very character driven show, it's not something that lends itself to 22 episodes," Rosenberg said. "The one advantage cable has over network, it has nothing to do with violence or sex or language or censors, it's time. You have time to develop a story. That's exactly what I wanted. I had as much time to write and develop this show as I did on 'Dexter.' I'm more proud of this show than anything else I've done in my career. So much of that has to do with ABC giving me the time with a great group of creative people to craft stories and bring these actors together."
In addition to the number of episodes, Rosenberg sees comparisons between "Red Widow"'s lead character and the complex characters seen in acclaimed cable programs. "This is a flawed female character, as all human beings are. A very human character," Rosenberg explained. "That's exciting to bring to network television. We've had on cable these male characters who are very flawed and complex -- Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan, Vic Mackey. We've just begun to have that on cable for women in 'Nurse Jackie' and 'Weeds.' This is a very tricky character to sell to an audience because women are held to a higher standard. But as played by Radha you have compassion for her."
The showrunner drew comparisons between "Red Widow"'s flawed lead character and "Breaking Bad"'s Walter White, as both characters skirt close to the edge of what viewers may deem acceptable. "That's one of my favorite television shows ever," Rosenberg said. "It is the model. I don't know where [Radha's] character could go, she could be as bad as Walter White."
Mitchell added, "We don't go that far in the first series. There's definitely room to evolve. The balance of what we've shot so far is a woman living in two realities. One is the crime reality and the other is a mom dealing with all these mundane maternal issues. I think there's something beautiful about that maternal energy and seeing that not as the back-up to a male lead. We don't often see mothers as leads."
"Red Widow" is set to premiere March 3rd on ABC.