Proven Innocent, a new show on FOX (9pm Fridays), makes a specious claim to be a television drama. I’ve already rendered my verdict on the show. But I’m letting the show call it’s star, Rachelle Lefevre, as its star witness to defend the show.
This Cocktail Convo is fun, and helps explain what the show is trying to do, even if it’s not close to 100% successful.
“I really describe our show as being inside out and backwards, in terms of a regular legal drama,” Rachelle told us when we asked her what makes Proven Innocent different from the myriad legal procedurals out there.
“Our clients are already in prison and they have, by our investigating and our belief, been wrongfully convicted. They’re innocent and we’re trying to get them out.”
It does look at the justice system from a different perspective. “And the way that turns it inside out is sometimes the only way to do that is you have to become an investigator. We become detectives and you have to solve the crime and find the person who actually did it in order to free the person who is innocent and in prison for the crime.”
Free To Be Me
“Sometimes you are dealing with forensic science and DNA exoneration, which happens often.” But the ways they prove people innocent are far less interesting than the reasons they were incarcerated in the first place.
“Sometimes we’re uncovering corruption, either at a very high level or at the local level. We deal with the ways the justice system can be biased or juries or witness identification. Or how religious, gender, sexual or racial bias can come into play in our justice system. So every week we get to look at a different angle. It’s never quite the same.”
Rachelle plays Madeline, a person wrongly convicted of murder as a teenager, who eventually got free, became a lawyer, and now works for a firm that specializes in freeing others who are wrongly imprisoned. This mirrors many groups that are working today in the real world.
“I think the most well-known is The Innocence Project and they have hundreds of exonerations. But even locally, state to state, there are amazing nonprofit organizations that work really tirelessly to free people who are innocent. But also to try to implement the kind of reforms that will prevent these kinds of situations. So hopefully we’ll raise some awareness about that.”
The Kardashian Effect
Of course, the most high-profile crusader for criminal justice reform is Kim Kardashian. (Yes, I know. If I’d written that sentence a year ago I’d have been convicted of WWI: Writing While Intoxicated)
But Kim has actually freed a grandma serving a life sentence in prison and helped pass a major criminal justice reform through congress.
So, will Proven Innocent bring in a Kim character?
“Uh, not to my knowledge, not at this point. Not in the first 13 (episodes). But what we do have, which is what you’re talking about, and sort of exactly what’s happening at the moment, is we have Nicki M. James. Everyone loved that podcast ‘Serial.’ Which was sort of like a national obsession. And so she plays our true crime podcaster on the show. So each week we have incorporated into the show the podcasts where we cover the case and we highlight the case of the week.”
“And it’s very similar to the true crime podcast that everyone has been talking about for the last couple of years. So we’re right on the money there.”
But Rachelle isn’t making this a one woman show. There is a strong cast (which makes it even all the more perplexing why this show isn’t better) that includes Kelsey Grammer as her prosecutorial nemesis.
“It’s really an amazing group of people to go to work with every day. Everybody knows Kelsey. Russell (Hornsby) who’s such a fantastic actor and also comes from the theater. Nickki M. James who has a Tony award for the Book of Mormon. Riley Smith, Vincent Kartheiser who was on Mad Men. We just everyday is an embarrassment of riches in terms of who I got to go to work with.”
The show does sport a strong cast, and hopefully will find some compelling stories to tell, and a new and interesting way to tell them.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A GIN-sberg and Tonic. It’s a Supreme treat!