WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A sharp-witted Marine veteran becomes a private investigator in Portland, Oregon, where she takes care of her brother who has down syndrome.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
When I first clicked on Stumptown, starring Cobie Smulders as the lead protagonist Dex Parios, I wasn't expecting much. I just went to Catch-Up, out of pure curiosity, to see what all the hype was about. I wanted to see whether the 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes was accurate.
Within minutes, I was hooked. After a fast-paced intro, I got to meet Dex at a bar, and I have to say all the hype is spot on. This isn't a cop show. This isn't another flat adaptation of an incredible graphic novel.
Stumptown is a refreshing, subversive take on trying to find purpose in your life after you've suffered tremendous trauma and trying to make friends while you're at it. It's also funny, and although I saw some of the twists and turns coming, I have to say I was still glued to the screen.
I think the two things that make the show stand out in a line-up of stellar TV series is the star turn of Marvel actor Colbie Smulders and the writing. The writing gives her the tools she needs to provide you with a flawed and captivating female character that I've noticed more and more in comics and Young Adult novels, but not so much on TV.
Dex makes horrendous mistakes, sleeps with the wrong people at the worst times, and is in general an anti-hero a lot of people might be able to see themselves in. She is trying to look out for her brother and her friends and herself but messes up most of the time.
She also finds herself at the mercy of a world that isn't designed for people who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Dex finally finds something she's good at – after being in the marines – and it's not an easy job, but at least she feels functional.
She's also queer and angry, and those are two qualities I love in women. While I found myself pressing play on episode after episode, I felt myself getting lost in her world. Which is what I think we need from TV right now - the ability to see a little bit of the real world, but also to escape. This show strikes that balance, which isn't always easy.
Is it the perfect show? No. Sometimes it was predictable. Sometimes it was penned in a little bit by it's medium and detective noir-ish genre. But hey, if you're looking for perfection then Dex shouldn't be your first stop.
If you liked the sass of Dr Gregory in House and the dodgy crime-fighting escapades of Brooklyn 99, then this is an excellent show for you.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: