Read almost any article about the upcoming Charleston-set CBS legal drama Reckless, and you probably won’t find much of anything about courtroom showdowns. Instead, it’s going to be about sex, sex, and more sex. And that’s just what creator Dana Stevens wants. It’s even how the show got the name.
“I wanted to write a show about people’s reckless behavior, because so many times in our culture, people are seemingly throwing their lives away all over sexual desire, whether it’s Gen. Petraeus or Anthony Weiner or people on the city council in the small town of San Gabriel, Calif. People keep doing this — and not only do they do it, but they put it on video or they tweet it,” Stevens says. “So I wanted to find two characters who couldn’t do that. If they follow their sexual desires and get together … their careers will be over.”
Those characters are Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet) and Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood), two attorneys working in Charleston against one another. They can’t get together or the biggest case of both of their careers will be thrown out, and that case is just your everyday sex scandal involving the Charleston Police Department. “That kind of sexual tension has proven itself to be a great, successful formula in TV. If you look at Cheers or Moonlighting or more current shows like The X-Files, Bones, or Castle, those shows where you’re wanting for those characters to get together and you’re waiting for them together,” says Stevens. “Those are the kind of shows I like to watch.”
But the show isn’t all sexual tension. It opens with a bang — on a cop car — between a detective and a regular cop. While you might have expected Stevens to pull the story straight from the headlines, she actually got the inspiration from Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” video, that classic clip from the hair metal era featuring Tawny Kitaen crawling over the hood of a car. “An image came to me based on what men seem to find sexy when they look at things,” she says. “They like cars and they like women.”
Luckily, Charleston’s image fares better for the rest of the show. Or at least Stevens hopes it does. She wants her Charleston to be a place where people can escape for an hour without leaving their couch. Stevens had never been to Charleston until she visited her boyfriend’s sister, who lives on Daniel Island. She instantly became smitten with the town and decided to write about it. During the filming of the pilot, she lived in Charleston for six weeks. “I just think living in a city that has the tension of the history and the modern — you know, I think the most beautiful imagery is of that spectacular modern Ravenel Bridge next to this historic city” she says. “I just feel like that kind of tension is also great for the show.
“I think the bottom line is, it’s a very romantic city, and it’s an appealing city. And I am getting so much of that. It’s making my show better because I think when people watch TV and watch movies, it’s wish fulfillment; its a fantasy — oh, what if I lived there? What if I could be doing those things? And I think Charleston, by virtue of it being the No. 1 tourist destination in the U.S., people want to spend time there.”
When it comes down to it, Reckless is a show about tensions. There’s the sexual tension and the modern vs. historic one, but also the age-old North vs. South one. And that regional struggle is one Stevens knows firsthand. “When I first came to Charleston, I felt a lot like an outsider. So that inspired me to imagine what if a Yankee lawyer came to the South and was practicing, and what would that feel like,” she explains. “I was inspired by what it is like when you’re dating a Southern man. What are Southern men like? I find them very attractive and very manly and very different, so I was very inspired by that combination of those people.”
That combo is what drives the relationship between Roy and Jamie. The too straight-forward, too honest, too blunt Northerner litigator must learn to fight in the more gentle, “bless your heart,” Southern style.
At the end of the day, Stevens just wants Charleston audiences to feel the show is authentic and that Reckless did them proud.
Reckless premieres Sun. June 29 at 9 p.m. on CBS.