What do you need to know about USA’s new series, Common Law? Co-executive producer Karim Zreik filled us in on the story, the characters and more.
Common Law premieres on Friday, May 11 at 10pm on USA.
Where did the idea for Common Law come from?
Karim Zreik: I have one-third of Junction Entertainment — and that consists of Jon Turteltaub, Dan Shotz and myself. And every year, every development season, we sit around and we try to figure out shows and what topics we want to explore. And about two years ago, we sat down and we were hitting a wall. I was throwing out ideas, I was shooting them down… And at one point, I was like, “I hate you guys.” [laughs]
The back story is we’ve been working together for 13 years, the three of us, and I’m like, “I love you guys so much, but I cannot deal with you.” And someone said, “Well, what if we all went to therapy and like talked it out? Ding! Buddy-cop show, guys get sent to therapy, and just see the dynamic of how that would work out.
Will we get to see the two detectives, Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) and Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole), ever working well together?
Karim Zreik: I think you’ll see a piece of that in every episode, the way they solve crimes. You know, it’s — all the bullsh*t aside — when they have to figure something out, they work well together. It’s the other stuff. It’s the personal stuff. And it’s whether, you know, Travis eats like a pig and makes a mess everywhere, and he makes a mess in Wes’ car, which drives him bonkers. It’s that stuff that they can’t figure out.
But the Captain will not split them up, because when they’re working on cases, they’re brilliant. They’re brilliant. They work off of each other. And you’ll see that. But then you’ll also see the mess.
How much action are we going to see mixed in with the therapy?
Karim Zreik: One thing we do in the series, we’ve tried to accomplish in every episode, is the action sequences… Like we want the show to sort of set itself apart from the other great USA shows that are on the air right now. And I think one way we can do it is to be a cop show with action.
Sorry, New Orleans, for destroying your streets. But we’re having a good time doing it! Every episode has a big action sequence, so it sort of takes some time and put some money into it.
Will the differences between Travis and Wes (two straight men) and the other couples (all married) be addressed?
Karim Zreik: Absolutely. I think one of the funny parts in therapy is they’re the only two men, straight men, in this group. And as the season goes on, Dr. Ryan explains to them, “You guys are a married couple and you’re going to have married-couple issues. And you guys, whether you know it or not, have hit the 7-year itch. And it’s natural and you’re gonna hate each other and you’re gonna figure it out and you’re gonna talk it through with one another.”
I don’t think they like to hear that because they’re, “We’re not married!” They fight it. But the more she explains to them, “Yes, you are. You’re going through married-couple stuff like an ex coming back into your life or having financial problems… All that stuff we explore in the first season.
Will the other couples always be the same?
Karim Zreik: Oh it’s the same three couples. You get to know them and their issues and how Dr. Ryan explores them.
What else will we see in the community center?
Karim Zreik: We’re telling the gag we like to play because it’s a community-center room. That room is used for many things. But one of the gags we like to play, there’s always something happening either before or after Dr. Ryan’s class. So whether it’s a group of 40 women waiting to do yoga and pilates… One week, it’ll be basket weaving…
Will Detectives Marks and Mitchell get better with therapy?
Karim Zreik: It’s a good question. Uh, I don’t know. I don’t know if you ever get better. From the people we’ve talked to, people still go to therapy. Things are fine — they just go to therapy.
But one of the notes is [Travis and Wes] didn’t volunteer for therapy. They got sent to therapy. And it’s part of the job requirement. I mean, the psychology is, if you don’t go to therapy you’ll lose your job. But there may be a 10 percent chance in there that they’re kind of liking therapy and it’s helping a little bit and the opportunity to see Dr. Ryan and get her advice helps.
How do Travis and Wes react when they can’t get away from each other?
Karim Zreik: They’re on a stakeout, and they have to share an apartment across the street. And Travis is a mess and Wes is anal and likes to have things a certain way, the temperature in the room has to be a certain way. And they are just not getting along.
What can you say about the normal living conditions of the two detectives?
Karim Zreik: Wes stays in the hotel. That’s a great storyline for him. Travis, we actually move him into a loft. He’s got like a loft space about this size, wooden floors.
Total bachelor pad. It’s more to his character because he comes from a foster home. He’s never had a home, and he always feels like that home will be taken away from him, so he lives simple. If he got thrown out of that loft, he can pack a bag in four minutes and be gone to the next place.
Do you have any idea of how long Travis and Wes will have to stay in therapy?
Karim Zreik: It’s literally, “Until you get better. Until you show signs of getting better.”
How long is that going to take?
Karim Zreik: At least 7 seasons. [laughs]
(Image courtesy of USA)