Sunset Boulevard is not so sunny once Los Angeles is depicted as a magnet for murder and crime in ABC’s “Wicked City.” Set in 1982, the series gets inspiration from 1980s crimes, with each season focusing on a new set of crimes. The series premiere, which aired on Tuesday, tells the tale of a murderous couple who finds its victims in clubs on Sunset strip.
Kent, played by Ed Westwick from “Gossip Girl,” is a serial killer who preys on young women who have recently moved to L.A. in hopes of making it big in Hollywood. He wins their trust by pretending to be a big shot in the industry willing to help them out, then kills them. Two detectives, a successful veteran and his new partner, quickly dive into the case.
This intriguing thriller captures a look into the dark history of L.A. with its fictionalized account of the spike in crime during the ’80s. Though the characters and dialogue seem cliche and the scenes lack breaks and seriousness, the premise sparks interest. Much of the appeal of the show is that the stories are based on real crimes. The stories give a glimpse into the minds of killers who are capable of such heinous acts and how they react to them. There are many shows starring serial killers, like “Fargo” and “True Detective,” but the fact that “Wicked City” is inspired by true stories brings more weight to the show.
Though the series is only one episode in, the characters already lack depth — so far, it is hard to understand what motivates the murderers. The show does seem to be trying to set up interesting characterizations that will be elaborated upon throughout the season. Westwick’s co-star, Erika Christensen, plays Betty, one of Kent’s intended victims who eventually becomes his murderous accomplice. Erika starts out as an innocent lover, a single mother of two. Her life seems relatively stable and it is hard to comprehend why Betty appears to join her boyfriend in his murdering sprees. For Kent we have even less reasonable explanations to his senseless murders. This may be an effective device to keep audiences hooked or just an abandoned plotline.
“Wicked City” brings potential to Tuesday nights, but so far doesn’t deliver on the high expectations it set in its intense promotional campaign. If the characters become more complex and intriguing in this show’s remaining nine episodes, it could live up to this potential.
“Wicked City” is on ABC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 2 print edition. Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]ews.com.