Graceland, created by Jeff Eastin, and based upon real events, has recently been renewed for a third season by USA Network. However, for some reason, this summer show seemingly fell below most viewers’ radars, which is a shame.
If you haven’t given this series a chance already, allow me to re-introduce it to you and present you with some arguments as to why it might be worth your while. Graceland follows the life and work of six undercover agents from the FBI, DEA and ICE, respectively, all of whom live under the same roof, a lavish Southern California beach house called Graceland. This upscale residence was confiscated from a Elvis-Presley-fixated drug lord, who named the property. The series stars Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Manny Montana, Serinda Swan and Brandon Jay McLarenm and these are some of the reason reasons you should be watching this overlooked show.
It‘s Friends in California and with double agents:
Yes, seriously, Graceland is not your run of the mill procedural show; in fact, I would say that it bears more of a resemblance to a serialized drama. The series premise is unique: double agents that are roommates and get to live rent free, by the beach, while they work different cases that eventually bleed into each other. This very concept allows for a multitude of interesting arcs to play out.
Graceland is all about the relationships built and the trust- or lack thereof- involved in them. It’s simple and complex at the same time: people tend to trust one more when they know one has a secret. Reliance goes deeper when they are privy to said secret. Therefore the agents/roommates deal with the complicated task of working and living together while contemplating when to trust or not and who to rely on or who to trick. They have to be invested personally and be detached enough at the same time. If that alone is not an effective hook, I don’t know what is.
The show also exploits the fact that personal relationships equal leverage. When it comes to the field jobs, the agents cultivate assets and infiltrate a number of gangs by creating different aliases; most of these stories are longer arcs, and as a result, we get to see every character play multiple roles. Simultaneously, the relationships among the roommates create a pull and push that gives one or another character the emotional upper hand over certain situations inside the house and the operations. This exponential, cyclic, dichotomy is what grants the show drama and comedy at the same time.
Moreover, as Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) declares at the early stages of Season 1, the Graceland tenants are a band of misfits: misfits with highly lethal skills, who operate guns and speak multiple languages, that is.
The ensemble cast kicks butt literally and figuratively:
Granted, this show has one of the most attractive casts on TV. The refreshing factor is, nonetheless, that Graceland provides as much brains as it does beauty. And there is variety too.
The characters are well defined and developed enough so the audience is compelled to root for the Gracelanders even when their actions are beyond questionable, which happens quite often. Both the writers and the actors have excelled at breaking the audiences’ hearts throughout the show’s first two seasons. Why? Because the characters we follow are deeply flawed. Graceland uses those flaws as assets, not as a handicap.
Since the agents personal life and work missions intersect constantly, the group scenes are some of the best the show has to offer. It is irrelevant if the roommates are deciding who gets what room, who does the dishes or how a mission is going to be laid out; when those six characters are in the same room, excellence is showcased. Without exception. The team dynamic, in my opinion, plays the biggest role of all.
Throughout two seasons, the actors have all shown range. To state it simply: the characters have all been happy to a degree, and they also have been abundantly miserable. At the same time, they have stood on both sides of the law, whether it was done in the name of the job or not. This has required the show’s actors to truly reveal what they are capable of in a convincing way. They have delivered.
There is balance:
Graceland is neither Baywatch nor The Wire. While the series is dark -and getting darker- given that drugs, murder, different shades of trafficking, torture, betrayal and a multitude of identity crisis take up much of the plot time, the show is still set in sunny California. The Graceland occupants have “sauce night”, and they surf and have bonfires by the beach. They bicker over chores and bond over funny-shaped pancakes. There’s plenty of humor in the mix and enough room so each character has the chance to get his or her jokes in.
However, where this show generally hits the nail on the head is when the plot stays on a grey area. Sure, the twists and turns are appreciated, but Graceland is effective when the audience can barely tell who is “doing the right thing.” When the characters wear grey hats.
The binge potential is huge:
This is a very bing-able TV show. It’s simple: Graceland is action packed, it’s entertaining, and it is a series that dares to take risks, whether they pay off or not, whether they please the crowds or upset them to no end. A good example of this would be the Season 2 finale, which sent most loyal fans looking for support groups and copious amounts of chocolate. I, myself, have my own issues with how the second season was wrapped, if I am being honest. Yet that very conflict, makes me look forward to the next season even more.
Because this is not the typical case of the week procedural and the personal relationships within the house carry an enormous weight, Graceland is equal enjoyable for both men and women. There is plenty of everything for everyone: romance, comedy, drama and action.
As I stated at the beginning of this piece, Graceland is a show that most people have never heard of. Hopefully, this intense, yet endearing series will get the eyeballs and love it deserves.
Loyal fan or about to become a binge-watcher? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
[Photos via USA Network]