The modern world says people can fit any image.
They can be dark leather or pink fluff … or both, switching from day to day. A prime example came when Abigail Spencer (shown here) arrived to talk about “Reprisal.”
Here is a rough, sometimes brutal series. “I grew up on (Quentin) Tarantino films,” said creator Josh Corbin, “and I am a fan of the violent genre.”
Early in the opener (Friday, Dec. 6, on Hulu), his heroine (Spencer) is slapped, slugged and dragged; later in the hour, she’s lethal. It’s “a role that is typically written for a man,” Spencer said.
It’s suitable for leather and chains. And while Spencer was describing it (to the Television Critics Association, in July), she was wearing a prom-worthy dress, pink and fluffy.
Why the dress? “I don’t know,” she said. “I feel like creating. It’s instinct …. This was the second dress I tried on at a fitting, and there we go.”
We’ll substitute another explanation for the fashion choice: True freedom lets actresses be brooding and brutal; it also lets them be fluffy and frilly.
Back in 1999, when she was still a teen, Spencer played Becca, a nanny who kept her virginity in the lustful world of “All My Children.” We won the Soap Opera Digest award for “best female newcomer.”
Fourteen years later, she co-starred in “Rectify,” as a troubled woman who believed her brother’s murder conviction was wrong. She was nominated for Critics Choice and Satellite awards.
Other roles have included an FBI agent in “Angela’s Eyes,” Don Draper’s lover in “Mad Men,” Harvey Specter’s rival in “Suits” and a time-traveling historian in “Timeless.” This requires a broad range … and now “Reprisal” requires more.
For this one, we don’t know who she is. She’s Katherine at first, then takes a fresh identity as Doris.
We don’t know when she is; “Reprisal” is billed as an “era-ambiguous” show. “From Day One,” Corbin said, “we don’t know where we are and we don’t know when we are.”
We can’t even say if Katherine/Doris is good or bad. “I think every human being in the world has a little bit of good and evil,” said Mena Massoud, who went from being the good-guy star of Disney’s “Aladdin” movie to the “Reprisal” role of Ethan, a brawler who says he has a homicidal past.
“We look at it as a graphic novel … It is a violent world and it’s a male-controlled world,” said producer Warren Littlefield. Then Doris “says ‘enough’ and it’s Doris taking this world apart.”
She can do it. Spencer quotes Hannah Gadsby, the writer and comedian: “There’s nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”
Those are potent words … even when uttered by someone in a fluffy pink dress.