November 29, 2023

Not Enough People are Talking about NBC's Found (2023)

I was recently thinking about how I missed Shondaland during the Scandal era (Seasons 1-2 and maybe the first half of 3) and how I wished there was something else to fill the void. How to Get Away with Murder was too crazy. Inventing Anna only has one season (they could've at least given us a spin-off about the Scriberians).

So enter Found.


I stumbled across the trailer on Facebook and it immediately messed with my head. The idea that a woman (who finds missing people for a living) kidnapped her kidnapper and chained him up in her basement as a consultant...was just wild.

The Good Stuff

Shanola Hampton (Gabi Mosely) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Hugh Evans a.k.a. "Sir") are really throwing themselves into their respective roles. We're only nine episodes in as of this writing and you'd think we were on Season 3 or 4. I sense no hesitation or uncertainty with these two; they understood the assignment right away.

While I'm new to Hampton's work, I've been watching Gosselaar for over 30 years now (*wince*) and he genuinely creeps me out in this role. They could not have chosen a better actor to play Sir, not only because it's deeply disturbing to Gosselaar fans, but because it really just hit me that he's never gotten sufficient credit for his abilities. I have watched him from Saved by the Bell to Law & Order: SVU, Raising the Bar to Franklin & Bash, Rizzoli & Isles through PitchThe Passage, and Mixed-ish, and he has seamlessly shifted through each persona. He'll change his body if need be, the timbre of his voice, his posture, his walk, even the way he expresses anger or irritation. And some of you are saying, Well yeah...he's an actor. Yeah, well in the age of ripped bodies and nepo babies, most actors suck.

But I digress. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is freaking me out on this show, y'all. Psychologically speaking, the "ick" is super strong with this one. I'm talking shuddering, cringing, and even resisting the urge to vomit sometimes. He's that convincing. As "Sir", he portrays a modern-day Puritan who's been obsessed with Gabi for decades (we just found out why this week). He kidnapped her when she was sixteen and held her prisoner for about a year before she escaped.

BIG shout-out to A'zaria Carter (of P-Valley fame), who bravely portrays young Gabi. I've had high hopes for this actress for a while now, and I'm glad to see her spread her wings. In addition to bringing the vulnerability, she brilliantly portrays the fear and tension. As Sir's hostage, she's forced to read constantly, learn scripts, and play out his bizarre fantasy of intellectual discourse at the "family" dinner table. And even though I know it's just a show, I am genuinely terrified every time the show flashes back to Gabi's captivity.

The Stuff that Needs Work

The casting and characterization are exceptional. The writing is not.

Don't get me wrong; there's definitely potential. The cast is excellent; the chemistry works, and the ideas behind each character are great: The Olivia Pope upgrade who pisses off law enforcement while doing their job better. The laconic, queer Muslim guy who bashes skulls. The adorkable genius with severe agoraphobia. The traumatized mother turned Sherlock Holmes. The cop who actually wants to protect and serve. The law student who was once held hostage with young Gabi, and helped trigger the great escape. 

And the Hannibal Lecter in the basement, giving chillingly accurate insight into missing persons cases.

It's brilliant and fresh, but the pacing is horrendous. Everything, especially in the initial episodes, feels rushed. I like that Gabi has a love interest (the cop, portrayed by Brett Dalton) who isn't fugly and is clearly into her. Apparently, Found's writers have the backbone not to shy away from this. But by the time we meet them, they've already slept together, they've got inside jokes and secret looks that viewers have nothing to base on, and so we are completely robbed of the meeting-first-time-followed-by-torturous-slow-burn that we're getting from, say, The Bear.

The developing relationship between the hot stoic gay (Dhan, portrayed by Karan Oberoi) and the eccentric agoraphobe (Zeke, portrayed by Arlen Escarpeta) was also rushed. Their bonding  should've taken at least a couple of seasons. The back and forth between Mosely & Associates and local police is insufficient; she's finding people they can't and typically aren't even looking for. Every episode should open up with commentary from podcasters, TikTokers, and general press about this glaring disparity. The individual cases of the week also feel rushed, like the writers are checking off a list and racing against a clock. 

In addition to the rush, there's the tendency to over-explain things. We don't need a show and tell; first rule of using a visual medium is show...don't tell. Show us that Margaret (Kelli Williams) is an extremely observant and perceptive person; don't show AND explain her "super power" to us. We don't that need all that redundancy.

The writing appears to be strongest, unsurprisingly, with scenes involving Sir. In fact, I feel like the writers rush through their other scenes just so they can get back to writing Sir. Talk about a rookie mistake; Mark-Paul Gosselaar cannot carry this whole show by himself. It's not fair to him, nor to his castmates. And it's not fair to viewers who are actually interested not only in the rest of the main cast, but the guest cast who portray missing victims that law enforcement generally ignores (Indigenous, undocumented, queer, melanated, sex worker, addict, homeless, etc.).

I know that showrunners have no certainty of renewals these days, but succumbing to that fear merely sabotages their work. And speaking of renewals...

Not Enough People are Talking about this Show

While Found has impressive numbers, there's not enough chatter about it on social media. Blogs aren't picking it apart and analyzing themes or theories. I have found exactly one YouTuber consistently reviewing episodes; outside of the trailer, nobody's doing reactions.

I really, really, really want this show to improve and succeed, and to do so, it needs time. It needs more seasons. The writers need to know they're not going to be canceled before they can finish telling their stories. I want the fandom to grow, even among the weirdoes on Tumblr who ship Gabi with Sir (I'm not linking that insanity. Y'all can go dig for it).

So spread the word, share this post, hop on the socials, and if you're not watching Found, you can on the Peacock app without a subscription (I think).

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