The former Smash star pulls double duty as an NYPD homicide detective and mother of twin boys — actually, make that twin terrors — and executive producer Jeff Rake tells TVLine that the constant struggle for balance is what makes Messing perfect for Laura, which is based on a Spanish-language procedural.
“We all know her comedic chops from Will & Grace, but for those who saw The Starter Wife, they know this is someone who can also play grounded dramedy and drama,” Rake explains. “This should be a fun, relatable, surprising, cathartic hour of popcorn television. We push the envelope a little bit, but it’s all in the interest of letting the audience connect to this character.”
In addition to Laura’s out-of-control boys — who may or may not pee on one another during the pilot — her manic home life also includes a soon-to-be-ex-husband, played by Josh Lucas. Rake says he wants the audience to hold out hope for a reconciliation, but for now, it’s important to be realistic.
“Jake is a flawed guy who did a bad thing, and characters like that don’t change overnight,” Rake says, adding that he wants to remain sympathetic to the plight of couples facing divorce. “He’s got a lot of work to do if he wants to earn Laura’s heart back — and he’s going to try.”
Then there’s Laura’s work life, which is just as harrowing for very different reasons. Along with the mystery of the week — which, at least based on the pilot, will play out in a Clue-like fashion — she’s got a jealous co-worker named Meredith (True Blood‘s Janina Gavankar), who remains desperate to get in the good graces of their captain (Veronica Mars‘ Enrico Colantoni).
“Meredith wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night sticking pins in the voodoo doll of Laura,” Rake says, “but only because Meredith is perfect and always on the ball — yet there’s Laura, who rolls out of bed with oatmeal in her hair, yet somehow comes up with the smartest solves without even breaking a sweat.”
Without giving away too much, Laura’s work and home lives collide in a very serious way in the pilot’s final moments, but even when things seem their bleakest, Rake reminds us: “We’re absolutely not taking ourselves too seriously.”
The Mysteries of Laura pilot airs tonight at 10/9c, before moving to its regular time, Wednesdays at 8 pm, on Sept. 24.