Is 'Doubt' Based On A Real Firm? CBS' New Legal Drama Feels Familiar
After CBS sent back Doubt's first stab at a pilot last year to be retooled, it came back this year with two new leads and a revamped series premiere. The makeover worked, and Doubt, now armed with a killer cast of actors, was successfully picked up for a Feb. 15 midseason premiere on CBS. The series follows Sadie Ellis, played by Katherine Heigl, at the New York City-based boutique law firm she works at, which her father, Isaiah Roth, owns. It's a legal procedural steeped in workplace drama, but is Doubt based on a real firm? The show does feel really familiar, but it's not because the firm is ripped from the headlines.
Doubt is entirely fictional, but it comes from the minds of Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, a husband-and-wife production team who are alums of Grey's Anatomy. The idea of a workplace soap, especially one with Heigl at the helm as a stylish and brilliant attorney who struggles romantically, which covers timely and topical social issues is basically the Shonda Rhimes formula for success. Other lawyers at the firm are played by Dulé Hill of The West Wing fame, Laverne Cox of Orange Is the New Black, and Dreama Walker, formerly of The Good Wife. Sadie's dad is played by Elliott Gould, whom you may know best as Monica and Ross' dad, Jack Geller, on Friends, and her mom turns out to be a convict in prison played by Judith Light.
This mirrors some of Sadie's personal drama as the client she's defending — a handsome pediatrician named Billy Brennan who is accused of having murdered his girlfriend 24 years ago — is also her love interest. (Whoops!) Cox's character, Cameron Wirth, also starts flirting with a lawyer at a rival firm, giving CBS the opportunity to break some ground with their storyline: Cox is the first transgender actress to play a transgender character as a series regular on a network TV show. Rounding out the cast of complicated characters is Nick Brady (played by Kobi Libii, who is fresh off a stint on Transparent). He's an attorney who got his law degree from inside prison and still struggles to be taken seriously as an ex-con-turned-lawyer.
Because the show has so many parallels to other series featuring strong female leads in powerful professions, it feels both current and in danger of flopping if it can't find another way to break the mold. The premise is soapy and sexy, but it'll need substance, too, if it wants to become a heavy hitter for CBS.