This spring, ABC used its hit Nathan Fillion cop show, The Rookie, to introduce another rookie in the making. The two-part back-door pilot focused on a school counsellor-turned-FBI trainee, Simone Clark, played by Niecy Nash who was brought in to help the L.A.P.D. (One of her former students had built a bomb. It happens.)
I know. Just what we need: another 40-plus year old making a major life change by moving into law enforcement with the young-uns. In fact, Nash and Fillion’s John Nolan lamented the constant physical challenges when compared to the 20-year-old trainees. (Didn’t we already hash this out in Season 1?)
Yet, based on the ratings, fans loved it.
It’s not that television needs The Rookie: Part Deux. But Nash is so darn enjoyable to watch as Simone. She sees the world in shades of grey instead of black and white. She’s the approachable school counsellor who understands both academia and the real world. She’s got decades of life experience and a father who’s totally unsupportive of her goals. So she’s surrounded by friends and family while simultaneously, being completely alone in life.
As for Nash, herself, the role is tailor-made. Simone is funny, frank, fresh and full of flaws. And that’s Nash to a “T” (or an “F”).
Also, with the generally negative sentiment toward law enforcement and the demand for change, the idea of John Nolan’s rookie was certainly timely. But let’s face it. A woke, older white male cop isn’t going to make a huge dent in the stereotype.
But a sassy, opinionated black woman? That’s changing the image. Especially in the FBI. Just saying those initials conjures up a skinny guy, white shirt, dark tie, and a severe haircut. And that’s definitely not Simone.
Which brings me to what I absolutely love about Nash: she’s not your typical Hollywood leading lady. A supporting character? A comedic foil? Sure. But the star of her own show? Until now, it wasn’t likely.
Nash is 52, black, and very curvy. And as a woman, I really want to know where she got her undergarments because they defied gravity. I’ve never seen a brassiere stand up so well to that kind of stunt work. Even my 80-something mother thought her bra was being auditioned for the part as much as Nash was.
So I would be thrilled to see a Simone-spin-off this fall. Her character certainly has a lot of room to develop. She’s new, still learning, and her own father was falsely incarcerated. So she’s walking a fine line between old school and “defund the police.”
The as-yet-untitled backdoor pilot also introduced the local senior agent, Garza, who wanted to start a new specialized team that did things differently. A perfect fit for a potential new agent who doesn’t fit the mold.
Of course, the writers will have to be surgically-precise in wading through today’s politics. But if anyone can serve up tough topics and make them more palatable, it’s Niecy Nash.