State of Affairs, NBC's new drama starring Katherine Heigl, premiered Monday night with a few explosions, plenty of CIA jargon, and far too many tight shots on Heigl looking sad.
Heigl is a really excellent romantic comedy actress. In movies like 27 Dresses her characters are believable and fun, even if they aren't wholly likable. In State of Affairs, though, she's playing a part outside of her comfort zone, and she doesn't do it very well.
Her character, Charleston Tucker, is a former CIA operative working as the president's daily briefer after being pulled from the field. Her job is to identify America's biggest threats and make tough calls about how to deal with them.
The role should make Heigl look strong, capable, and kind of badass, but instead she looks like a rom-com actress who is trying to be all of those things. She flounders through the role, and spends most of her time looking like a less capable version of Olivia Pope. Here are nine moments where the show fumbles its story, and Heigl's character becomes completely unbelievable:
1) She's a horrible fake drunk
Charleston Tucker's method of dealing with her PTSD is going out every night and drinking. Her drunk behavior is grating, because it's so overblown for a character that is otherwise supposed to be put together.
2) She doesn't look comfortable at work
Heigl always looks like she's acting, especially in office scenes. Her motions look robotic and staged instead of casual. Just watch her carefully place these glasses on her face.
3) She can't hide her emotions at work
Tucker recently watched her fiancé die in Kabul, but the way Heigl portrays that hurt is too obvious. An ex-field operative would certainly be better at bottling her emotions, especially in front of her subordinates.
4) Her body language looks forced
Here, Heigl is supposed to be puzzled and a little unhappy, and we see that on the screen, but we don't feel it.
5) She doesn't have CIA level coordination
Just watch Heigl try to keep her balance on this moving truck. Tell me she looks like a field operative.
6) She treats the oval office like her home
In every television show ever (and probably in real life) characters shake the president's hand because they are the president. Not Heigl. She just plops herself on the couch happily.
7) No one at work is actually this funny
8) She's far too paranoid
One of the looming mysteries of State of Affairs is how, exactly, Tucker's fiancé died. When she receives anonymous texts from someone who appears to know the circumstances surrounding his death, she doesn't act like someone with government secrets and a system in place to protect her. She freaks out like a civilian.
9) Her character is inconsistent
Tucker's house is spotless and beautiful. She is a bossy in control lady with hidden guns. Why on earth would she drop her coat on the counter and flip her shoes on the floor? She wouldn't. This is the biggest problem withTucker: she doesn't seem like a full character because she's so inconsistent.