A fearless gay feminist leader taking on a world of bad men? Check. An angelic child who may be separated from her mother because of Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Check. At this point, Hollywood is not even writing network television scripts. They are just taking old ones out of the recycling bin.
The new CBS drama, Tommy, premiered with the episode "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," on February 6. The show's premise is that the Los Angeles Police Department is shaken up with the arrival of a new female police chief from New York, Abigail Thomas or "Tommy" (Edie Falco). Of course, Tommy is also a lesbian for good measure.
It is clear the PC feminist hammer will be hitting the patriarchal nail in this series from the opening scene with Los Angeles Mayor Buddy Gray (Thomas Sadoski).
Mayor: Dear fellow Angelenos. This week, Abigail Thomas took office as the first woman to be named chief of police in the history of our city. To be clear, I didn't hire Chief Thomas only because she is a woman. There was a prostitution scandal involving several police officers and an underage girl with a learning disability, the previous chief was accused by eight different women of sexual harassment and there is a pending federal lawsuit, but I would never make a decision like this out of political expediency. Public safety is more than my most important responsibility. It is a sacred-
Man 1: ... Battery's dead.
Mayor: Why can't I say that I hired her because she's a woman?
Man 2: It's not good.
Mayor: I just hired the first female police chief in the history of Los Angeles, not to mention Chicago and New York. Why is that not a good thing?
Man 3: You dropped a line.
Mayor: I'm not saying that line.
Man 3: "There are a few bad apples in every barrel."
Mayor: A federal judge made me hire a woman-- that's known to everyone, right?
Man 3: Police union asked if you could say it.
Mayor: There are no apples in Los Angeles. It never gets cold enough.
Man 3: It's a proverb.
Mayor: A cop who pimps out a 15-year-old girl with an 80 iq is not an apple, he is not a quince, he is not a loquat, he is a scumbag.
Man 2: It will look like you submitted to political pressure, not to your voters, to swing voters. These are the pleasures of term limits, my friend. You've got to think about what's next.
Mayor: Apples. What am I, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont?
After Tommy arrives on the job, the first big case she has to take on is --- surprise! -- an attempted ICE arrest of a beautiful Latina mother named Maria and Maria's sweet child. An LAPD officer has gotten in the way of an ICE arrest, riots are breaking out and Tommy needs to diffuse the situation. Tommy does acknowledge the importance of respecting the law in a subsequent dialogue with the ICE officer at the scene.
ICE Agent: We are law enforcement officer just like you. Just like Yo...
Tommy: Guy, I'm sorry, I think we-we skipped the intros. I'm Abigail Thomas. Usually just Tommy. Last person who called me Abigail was my father, and he died when I was five.
ICE Agent: That woman-- Maria whatever-- she may be a very nice person, she could be Mother Teresa for all I care. She still entered this country illegally.
Tommy: I agree with you. No, I-no, I agree with you.
ICE Agent: And under the law... Under... Under...
Tommy: I-I agree with you. I'm a cop, you're a cop, my father was a cop. We enforce the law because that's how we can best serve the people who need our protection most.
ICE Agent: That patrolman deliberately interfered with our arrest.
Tommy: Yeah, which we will properly investigate. W-which is not gonna happen tonight. What will happen tonight-- because we're cops-- is we're gonna defuse that bomb out there so everybody gets home safe. And if I determine that that officer exceeded his authority, he will be, uh, disciplined. You have my word on that.
ICE Agent: All right.
The show also gets right the connection between illegal immigration and the horror of sex trafficking. Tommy and the LAPD discover that Maria was brought into the United States illegally at age 15 for sex trafficking and that her daughter is now being molested by the man who trafficked her. Nonetheless, the characters continue to take regular shots at ICE throughout the episode.
Tommy's speechwriter, Ken (Michael Chernus), says in a meeting, "Aren't we just doing ICE's dirty work for them?" "ICE is under pressure from Washington to detain more people," another staffer replies. "Oh, you mean like a little girl's mother? Now we're the ones investigating her?....We shouldn't cooperate with ICE on any of this."
Eventually Maria is placed in witness protection because she can testify against the powerful man who trafficked her. When Tommy learns this she says, "Good. Now ICE can't touch her." Despite the fact that ICE's own attempted arrest in the show led to the uncovering of sex trafficking, ICE is still talked about as a villain.
The show closes toward the end with Tommy making a speech at a woman's function about "how it feels to be a gay woman in America in the year 2020." It is all supposed to be so powerful. I'm sure to a gender theorist at Berkeley it is. To the rest of America, it is boring and tiresome. Edie Falco is an appealing and talented actor, but even she cannot save this latest left-wing turkey.