(In the era of Peak TV, there’s not time to review everything, or even to give the shows I write about a full essay, so from time to time I’ll try to introduce you to an interesting new series — or talk about changes to a returning one — with a few key details and opinions.)
Three things you should know about Sweet/Vicious, a new MTV drama premiering tonight at 10:
1. It’s Veronica Mars by way of Batman, with a dash of Buffy.
A mysterious figure in ninja gear is waging a solo war on crime on a college campus: specifically targeting rapists and other abusers of women. Only the ninja is demure sorority girl Jules (Eliza Bennett), who’s about to acquire an unwanted sidekick in Ophelia (Taylor Dearden), a pot-dealing hacker badly in need of a purpose that Jules’ crusade provides.
2. It has more than a little Breaking Bad DNA, as well.
In one way, it’s literal DNA, as Dearden is the daughter of Bryan Cranston. This isn’t a nepotism hire; she has a sly delivery and ability to switch between comedy and drama that may remind you of her dad, even if she’s more in the Jesse Pinkman role here. Beyond Dearden, Sweet/Vicious also somewhat resembles BB because it has a seemingly comic (bordering on ridiculous) premise that the show takes very seriously, with an unexpected level of darkness and consequences. (There’s a story development in the second episode that seems preordained to involve the daughter of Heisenberg.) It weaves in a lot of black comedy, particularly in the interaction between the two mismatched partners, but it’s not a joke.
3. It’s not at the level of its inspirations just yet.
This is a very cheap looking show: a glorified web series with a few recognizable actors (notably Brandon Mychal Smith from You’re the Worst as a friend of Ophelia’s) that’s still not entirely in command of the many tones it’s trying to squeeze into its low-fi superhero origin story. (The sorority material in particular feels too broad in contrast with Jules’ vigilante work.) There’s promising — and incredibly timely — material here, and Dearden is worth the price of admission, but it still needs some fine tuning from creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and company.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org