In the wake of a TV season that left many shows criticized for depicting violence against women, ABC’s fall drama Wicked City had something to prove Tuesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
Set against the backdrop of the Sunset Strip circa 1982, Wicked City focuses on two Los Angeles cops in search of a Bonnie & Clyde-esque team of serial killers — master manipulator Kent (played by Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick) and sociopathic nurse Betty (Parenthood‘s Erika Christensen) — whose victims are primarily female.
“A majority of us are women in the writers’ room, so it was very important to us that we not depict graphic violence. For me, that’s a very uncomfortable thing to watch,” executive producer Amy B. Harris said when asked how explicit the murder scenes will be. “We want to keep the graphic violence to a minimum, but we also want to acknowledge that they’re killing people. There’s no way we can say that they aren’t.”
Still, Harris and series creator Steven Baigelman received heat from reporters with regard to Wicked City‘s opening sequence, in which — spoiler alert! — Kent murders a young girl while receiving oral sex from her. Baigelman maintained he and his team are not interested in depicting “violence porn” on the series.
“All the women on this show are strong women, from whatever angle they’re coming from,” he said. “They find empowerment, and that’s very important to us.”
When asked how Wicked City will avoid similar criticism to that of Game of Thrones‘ Season 5 rape scene, Harris insisted it would be impossible not to become part of that dialogue.
“That is part of the conversation when you’re doing a show about a ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ serial killer couple,” she said. “When the story is about violence and it tells you something about the time and place, I understand it. When it’s used to titillate, I’m not particularly interested.
“The dialogue is a good one to have,” Harris acknowledged, “and we can’t avoid that conversation on our show.”
Wicked City premieres Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 10/9c on ABC. Hit the comments and tell us if you’ll be tuning in.