'For the People' Series Premiere: 3 Burning Questions Answered

Jim Halterman
Nicole Wilder/ABC


Legal dramas from Perry Mason to The Practice have brought viewers inside courtrooms before. Now For the People takes on the mother of them all: the Southern District Court of New York. “It’s the oldest federal trial court in the United States,” creator Paul William Davies explains.

The hallowed halls serve as the setting for his show, where six green attorneys, including public defenders Jay, Allison and Sandra (Wesam Keesh, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Britt Robertson) learn from the pros while dealing with complicated personal issues too. (Shonda Rhimes, after all, serves as an executive producer!) Davies briefs us on the essential points of his series.

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1. How does this stand out from other law dramas?
“Most legal shows tend to be on one side or the other,” Davies says, “but we are approaching these cases from the perspective of the defense and the prosecution.” Under lawyer Jill Carlan (Hope Davis), the public defenders face off against U.S. Attorney Roger Gunn (Ben Shenkman) and his prosecutors Seth (Ben Rappaport), Leonard (Regé-Jean Page) and Kate (Susannah Flood).

2. What kinds of cases will we see?
Though celebrities such as Martha Stewart have been tried at this very place, For the People “is not a ripped-from-the-headlines kind of show,” Davies says. “But we try to handle cases that are relevant.” In the pilot, for example, Sandra defends a man accused of attempting to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

3. Does it feel like other Shondaland shows?
Yup! Davies, who cut his teeth writing for Scandal, says it has the messy relationships viewers have come to love from that world. He hints at an “interesting triangle” between Seth, Leonard and Kate. “People will have feelings about that!”

For the People, Series Premiere, Tuesday, March 13, 10/9c, ABC

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This article also appeared in the Mar. 5 - Mar. 18 issue of TV Guide Magazine.

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