Why critics are loving Laverne Cox’s new US drama Doubt

CBS

Critics were suspicious of Doubt being just another tiresome entry into the cannon of true crime drama.

Since Law & Order has graced our screens for so long, does the court room still have enough stories left to tell?

Doubt sees a defence lawyer, played by Katherine Heigl, go head over heels for her client –  a paediatric surgeon who may or may not be guilty of murdering his girlfriend. 

The show has been praised not necessarily for its plots, although they do touch upon prevalent issues such as rape culture and mental health, but for its impressive cast.

Most importantly, it stars transgender actress and LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox, who shot to fame after appearing in Orange is the New Black.

She plays attorney Cameron Wirth, in the first ever series from a broadcast network featuring a regular transgender character played by a transgender actor.

Dorothy Rabinowitz, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said “the series is a fully equipped model of racial and gender diversity and includes a powerhouse of a transgender attorney.”

Critics have also praised the show for giving Cox a role that is dialled down; the first two episodes see her gender identity tackled head on, but the third, in which a male colleague flirts with her, doesn’t see the fact she’s trans enter into the conversation at all. Her identity isn’t exploited –  it is merely represented.

Praise has also flooded in for Katherine Heigl. Post-Grey’s Anatomy (both shows share the same writers), Heigl’s career has seen a noticeable decline, with the disastrous State of Affairs standing her in a weak position for future roles.

However, as Vulture’s Jen Chaney points out, “the writers know exactly what sort of sheet music to hand Heigl, and she plays the notes in a way that makes the character more relatable and watchable than he might have been in other hands… [She] may finally have found a role that sticks.”

Although the show has only premiered across the Atlantic, we are hopeful that a UK network will nab this series up and grace our TV screens with a ground-breaking representation of trans characters. 

Words Liam Taft

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