Fox's upcoming drama Gang Related is out to break down stereotypes.
The series, from the Fast and the Furious franchise scribe Chris Morgan, follows members of the Los Angeles Police Department's elite gang task force as they take on the area's most dangerous gangs. The Wire'sRamon Rodriguez stars in the ensemble as Ryan Lopez, a cop who has risen in the ranks without his team knowing that he's also strongly tied to one of the city's toughest gang led by Javier Acosta (Cliff Curtis). With the clan he's grown up with on one side and his police squad on the other, Ryan constantly finds himself torn between what's right and wrong and where he ultimately belongs.
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"[We thought], 'What if we pick him up where he's been one thing his entire life and now has this new family?'" Morgan told reporters Mondayat Fox's Television Critics Association winter previews for the show. "With Ryan, we have a chance to show the gray side to everything. Every hero has a dark side and every villain has a heroic side." Added Rodriguez, "My character hopes there is an endgame [to this], but sees it's not that easy. There are challenges with trying to get out [of the gang] or the task force trying to take down his family and while in the beginning he thought this was a great way to get the family out, things get complicated."
But this isn't just about the guys on the right side of justice; the show also shows the complex — and not always evil — inner workings of the gangs. Terry O'Quinn admitted that his character Sam, the task force's leader, is a terrible father, while Curtis said that Javier may have been a bad man, but an excellent dad and a great leader. Similarly, Jay Hernandez, who plays Javier's son Daniel, added, "It's about humanity. It's not a black and white world; it's a gray world we live in. Trying to make it honest and interesting and layered was important."
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The show prides itself on its very diverse cast and staff. "We have three African-American writers, three Latino writers," Morgan said, before adding, "And it's not just diverse by ethnicity... I thought about what everyone is good at. We wanted the actors to not feel like they were being written by someone who didn't have any sense or understanding of the world."
As for Curtis, who hails from New Zealand, playing a Latino, Morgan defended the choice. "As long as I'm working, I'm going to give [the role] to the best actor and everyone on this stage were the best for the role. For Cliff's part, we looked at a lot of Latino actors and cast some of them on different roles. Ultimately knowing that Javier next to Ramon is the anchor of this family, we needed a force of nature and he was, in our humble opinion, the person we felt would be the best."
Morgan also made it clear that the gangs, which will include a Caucasian group, will be true to their respective identities and stand out on their own. "One of the things we always discussed is that there is a very Game of Thrones element to our show where we have territories and the politics are very specific and very different," he said. "We want to make them feel that they're their own kingdoms all jockeying for position."
Will you watch Gang Related?
Gang Related premieres Tuesday, May 20 at 9/8c on Fox.