Pretty Hard Cases Creators Preview the New CBC Series

Does the pandemic have you feeling down and a bit lonely? Well get ready to meet your new best friends. Thanks to the new CBC series Pretty Hard Cases, viewers will be introduced to Guns and Gangs detective, Sam (Meredith MacNeill) and Narcotics detective, Kelly (Adrienne C. Moore). By day, these women are true action heroes, taking down some truly ruthless criminals, but at night, they’re grappling with the same loneliness, dysfunctional families, and screwed-up love lives that we all are. Thankfully, their friendship could be just the thing they each need to balance out.

Pretty Hard Cases, which premieres Wednesday, February 3 at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem, is co-created by Tassie Cameron (Mary Kills People, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue) and Sherry White (Little Dog, Frontier, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue). Cameron and White both recently chatted with The TV Junkies about how the idea for the series was born out of working together on Rookie Blue, as well as previewed what viewers can expect to see this season.

The TV Junkies: You guys are back doing a cop show together. This bodes very well for those of us who loved Rookie Blue. Where did the idea behind this show come from?

Sherry White: It was definitely born out of working on Rookie Blue together for such a long time. Rookie Blue was an opportunity to write about the beginning, hopeful, start of your career and love life. We wanted to find something to do together that would allow us to tell these fun, high-stakes procedural stories, but that would also address issues with women where they’ve reached a certain level of success, at the expense of their own personal life. That was a little more relatable for Tassie and I, and we also wanted it to be fun.

Tassie Cameron: Our friendship was born out of a professional relationship, and we have so many great female friendships with people that we worked with. We wanted to reflect the kind of joys and challenges of complicated female friendships, especially in your 40s and 50s, and celebrate that.

TTVJ: I am already absolutely in love with the casting of your two leading ladies. What was it about Adrienne and Meredith that made you know they were the two for your show?

TC: They were top of our list from the very beginning. Sherry and I always said, ‘What if we could get someone like Meredith MacNeill to play Sam? What if we could get someone like Adrienne C. Moore to play Kelly?’ They were so clearly the prototypes for these characters to us, and then miraculously, we managed to get them both. They were our first choices. When Adrienne walked into the room in Toronto, it was magical seeing these two women together laughing and like they had been friends forever. I think we really lucked out.

TTVJ: It seems like there’s always so many cop shows out there that give us the male point of view, or there’s a male gaze behind it. With this show you have two female leads and you two behind the scenes. How does that different lens to a familiar concept we’ve seen before change things and make Pretty Hard Cases different?

SW: It’s very much a female lens, but the great thing about it is that we didn’t really have to be conscious about it. We were just being honest about what mattered to us and what was important to us. That, in and of itself, gives it a fresh point of view. We want these women to look nice and feel good, but don’t need them to be objectified in the same way. There’s love lives and all that excitement, but they are from a point of view that feels true to us.

TC: The majority of our writers are women on this show. We only had one man on our writing team. Our DP [director of photography] is a female, most of our directors were women, our producing team is almost all women, so when you talk about gaze it really is. It wasn’t by quota or anything, but just how we gravitated towards who we wanted to collaborate with.

TTVJ: There’s a lot of hot button issues when it comes to policing these days. Will the show touch on recent political issues and address any of them this season?

SW: The cases of the week are not particularly pointed on that, but there is a serialized story that addresses police brutality. We wanted to be a little more aspirational in that these are women who are part of a changing world. They aren’t denying what the world is, and it does get spoken about in the show, but we’re not telling it in a heavy way. We didn’t want to ignore it.

TC: We were grateful to be put on pause for COVID in order to be present for the Black Lives Matter movement. We were able to incorporate some of that thinking and learning into our characters and the show and not be blind to it. We were relieved that we weren’t shooting before that happened.

TTVJ: The premiere episode introduces our two characters to what seems like a season-long case. Will we see one case carry through all season? Can you describe it a bit?

TC: We meet Tiggy Sullivan [Tara Strong] in the first episode, Jackie Sullivan’s mom, and you get a sense that she’s preparing to become a contender in this world. We very consciously wanted to create a “bad guy” that’s a woman, and that incorporates femininity, strength, motherhood, and complicated female dynamics with her daughter. We wanted to watch her try and build an empire. How are Sam and Kelly going to find her and deal with it? That’s our question. 

SW: We see that they are primarily tackling this one neighborhood gang that keeps slipping through their fingers. As soon as they catch one bad guy, somebody else takes their place so they are very elusive. Every episode they get somewhere, but don’t fully crack down on it.

TC: Yes, there’s a strong serialized element in these 10 episodes, but there’s some episodes not at all related to that. We always come back to it, but I hope that each episode is satisfying as a case in and of itself.

TTVJ: Outside of Adrienne and Meredith, you have a really strong ensemble cast as well. Can you talk a little about the group of actors you’ve assembled to surround the leading ladies?

SW: It’s been an amazing casting process and we always just knew. We’d be uncertain, then see someone and just know.

TC: It’s never happened for me quite like that before. In certain cases we knew without reading people, like Karen Robinson who we worked with on Mary Kills People. She was a no-brainer. Dean McDermott came in and read and was just amazing. Al Mukadam came in and just nailed the Nazeer character. 

SW: We were at a loss with that character until we found him. We just couldn’t put our finger on who he was, and then Al Mukadam read for him and it was like, ‘Now I know him!’
TC: Tara Strong is amazing and we got to bring her back to Canada to do this. The fact that we got Percy [Hynes White], Sherry’s son, was so great because he’s always been way too busy. The pandemic meant that we got to cast him, and we worked with Katie Douglas on Mary Kills People as well. We just got super lucky.

Pretty Hard Cases premieres Wednesday, February 3 on CBC and CBC Gem.