TV Review: “Conviction” – Interesting But Repetitive

Written by Caitlin Cooper November 29, 2016


When I first saw the trailer for Conviction I was intrigued. Sure, there are enough crime shows to last a lifetime. But I can’t recall one whose main character was a woman trying to redeem herself by helping free people who have been wrongly conviction of crimes. And, of course, there was the promise of a female character who isn’t one to hold back, who tells people off without hesitation. We could use a show with a female lead that’s not reduced to being this imperfect being but someone who struggles and fights. Someone who ultimately does what’s right, even if she pisses off a few people along the way. Unfortunately, sometimes Conviction tries a bit too hard, and it’s already resorted to some repetition.

In Conviction, the troubled former First Daughter and lawyer Hayes Morrison (Hayley Atwell) is given a chance to avoid drug charges by leading the new CIU team, a team whose job it is to go over old cases and ascertain whether the person convicted as guilty did in fact commit the crime. Along the way, she has to prove herself to her new colleagues, and decide if her life as a wild child is really what she wants. In this redemption story, the answer is never obvious and Hayes and her team of scarred but intelligent people work together to make sure justice is served.

“You’re looking for forgiveness.”

What I like about Conviction is that it challenges the common crime drama formula. We don’t have a cast of characters who are all on the moral high ground, they’ve all got their damage and scars that they must face thanks to their new jobs in the CIU. Hayes is blunt, abrasive, and makes mistakes. But she’s also determined, and wants to help people. Each of her new co-workers have their own backstories whether they be addictions, crimes, or wrongfully convicting people. It’s a good recipe for a redemption tale. Bit by bit, with each case Hayes works on, she redeems herself with her new colleagues and her brother. The public loves her until they find out about the skeletons in her closet, but I’m sure she’ll win them over again, especially as she takes on controversial and significant cases. One episode features the Black Lives Matters movement, and while I’m not sure the writing does it justice, the fact that it attempted it at all is a memorable point in the series.

However, while the cases are interesting and often relevant, the show is overall hindered by its reliance on a formula even as early in as the first two episodes. I’d like to see them stray from that formula to keep the show fresh, and it seems like the latest episodes are attempting to do just that. I also think that some of the one-liners miss the mark and sound rather off-putting and flat. I get that Hayes is meant to be this gritty, speak-her-mind character but some things she says are just awkward and odd.


Of course, any drama needs a talented cast. And that’s mostly the case with Conviction. We’ve previously seen Atwell on Agent Carter, and while Hayes is decidedly more harsh and blunt she plays the character with ease and finesse even when spouting some awkward dialogue. Her emotions never seem forced. Shawn Ashmore as Sam Spencer is one of the highlights of the show; he slips into every role easily and makes the over-achieving and no-nonsense character sympathetic. Merrin Dungey as Maxine Bohen is another good actor on the cast. She delivers the right balance of hard former cop determined to help people, and a woman who struggles with her own demons. Emily Kinney sometimes struggles with the jarring dialogue, and it shows. Manny Montana as Frankie often doesn’t have much emotional range, but his character stands out.

“Someone needs to police the police.”

Sure, new crime dramas pop up all the time. But Conviction attempts to step outside the box a little with characters that come with scars and backstories that make them multifaceted. The cases they take on are varied and interesting, and the writing is compelling despite some awkward dialogue. However, the writers do often rely on an episode formula which made the Conviction seem pretty repetitive early on. Luckily, it seems like it might be trying to break away from that formula. And with a good cast to boot, Conviction has a lot going for it. If you’re looking for an interesting take on crime dramas, Conviction is a must-watch.

My Rating: 7.5/10


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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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