While “Deception” (premiering Jan. 7 at 10:00 p.m.) may seem molded in the vein of ABC’s soapy, mystery-fueled breakout hit, “Revenge,” don’t tell executive producers Liz Heldens and Gail Berman. Was she inspired by the rival network’s “Revenge”? Um, no. “Two of my favorite movies are ‘Donnie Brasco’ and ‘Sabrina'” Heldens said during a press tour panel, adding that her new show is as if those two films “had a baby.”
Berman also sidestepped the “Revenge” comparison, instead noting that “‘Notorious'” is one of her favorite shows. It seems the pair wants to aim higher than “Revenge”‘s sometimes silly plotlines, though the turf is the same — the very rich and very bad. The difference (other than the network) is that star Meagan Good plays Joanna, an undercover cop who returns to the house where she grew up as the daughter of an employee to investigate a murder in the family she knows well — but were definitely the haves to her have-less.
While it also seems that the casting of Good and Laz Alonso might offer up some possibilities for storylines that delve into the issue of race (both Good and Alonso are African-American), Heldens says that the script won’t deal with such issues overtly. “This show is about so many things… and this is a family drama. I’m not sure what we could put in the characters’ mouths that would speak louder than what you see onscreen.”
Good said, “What I loved about the script was that… it [didn’t say] young black girl. Color wasn’t mentioned at all.”
Alonso added, “When I read the script, my character’s last name was Slagovich.” It has since been changed to Moreno.
Though viewers might assume Good’s mother, who worked for the family, was a maid, Berman says, “I think the way she’s described on the show is head of household. That does indicate she worked in the house, but she’s not referenced as the maid. It’s played in an ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ kind of way, but Joanna was completely accepted into this family… and [became] best friends with Vivian. So that line was crossed… [and is later why] that friendship had to come to an end.”
As to when the mystery of whodunnit is resolved (Joanna’s childhood friend Vivian is murdered in the opening of the show), Heldens promised we won’t have long to wait. “The plan we’ve always had in our heads is to reveal the killer to the viewers [in season 1] then in the second season Meagan will probably have a really good idea how to solve it.”
Good, who said she grew up a horror fan and liked to pretend she was Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween,” was able to draw on real life to play a detective — her father was a cop for 26 years and his wife was in the FBI. “I got a lot of good information… about why you can’t engage. You almost have to… emotionally disconnect, and, like Joanna, die for the cause.”