When ABC's The Gates premiered, the early marketing made it look like Desperate Housewives, only with vampires. But as yesterday's episode showed, the series is actually going in a darker direction. We talked to stars Frank Grillo and Marisol Nichols.
The early promos for The Gates foregrounded Rhona Mitra's bored suburban housewife character, who's also a vampire who kills a contractor in the first episode. (And we weren't the only ones to make the Desperate Housewives connection from those promos.) But Mitra's character's struggle between being a good mom and draining the blood of the living is just one of the show's storylines.
When we first were doing the press, it was hard to break people from that idea. "No, this is not Desperate Housewives with vampires. But it was definitely compared to that in the beginning.
I think it hurt the show. Because, you know, vampires are an easy sell. And they promo-ed the show, and geared it towards vampires, like Rhona. And it was unfair not only to them, but to the show. Becuase that was just an element of what the show is. People thought the show was going to be a certain thing, and when they didn't get it, there was disappointment.
Yesterday's episode focused more on other characters who are confronting their inner monsters — including Frank Grillo's cop, Nick Monohan, who turns out to have shot an unarmed man in cold blood. And with Nick discovering the truth about The Gates' supernatural inhabitants, the show can finally start to tell some more interesting stories about a cop keeping the peace in a community of monsters, and asking some more metaphysical questions.
Grillo says that now that Nick knows about the monsters, it'll make it a lot easier to buy into his character. "The audience has a problem with my character, I think, because the audience knows more than my character. It's always tough thing for a character in a show when the audience knows more than them." And Grillo doesn't think that the fact that Nick deliberately shot a man he believed was a rapist will turn off audiences — people often root for vigilantes in TV and movies, after all. But when Nick confesses he knew the rapist wasn't armed, Nichols says you can see her character, Sarah Monohan, thinking to herself that her husband is a monster.
Now that Nick knows about the supernatural creatures in the gated community, "the show turns on its axis," says Grillo. The show is changing from what it's been for the first four episodes to "what it's going to be for the rest of the season." Nick will keep making new weird discoveries, episode after episode — until he starts to wonder just what The Gates are the gates to. Do these gates lead someplace? Also, now that Nick knows that immortality is possible and all these other mythical things are real, how does that change his worldview?
Adds Grillo, "I hope the audience sticks around for a while, because the show gets so good from this episode on."