The Detail: Co-Showrunner Ley Lukins on the Exciting Challenge of Having Three Female Leads

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Bell Media

One of the biggest keys to success for women is being supported by other women along the way. That’s exactly what the women of the new CTV drama series The Detail, airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, looks to showcase. Too many times in workplace drama series women are portrayed as competing against one another. That’s definitely not the case for Staff Inspector Fiona Currie (Wendy Crewson) and her detectives, Stevie Hall (Angela Griffin) and Jack Cooper (Shenae Grimes-Beech), as the three women look out for and support one another as they try to get convictions for the Metropolitan Police Service.

The new series, which also follows the women’s personal lives, is the latest from Executive Producer Ilana Frank, who has had past hits such as Rookie Blue and Saving Hope. While developing The Detail, Frank brought on board writer and producer Ley Lukins to co-showrun with Adam Pettle. Lukins had previously served as a writer on Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, in addition to work on Lost Girl. She recently spoke with The TV Junkies to expand upon how The Detail looks to showcase women empowering each other, as well as how the show plans to use its platform to address current issues in the news.


The TV Junkies: This was your first experience showrunning and you did it alongside Adam Pettle. What was that like for you?

Ley Lukins: It was wonderful. Ilana [Frank, Executive Producer] is an incredible person to work with and has always empowered so many writers, male and female. Being with her and Adam, who I have known for many years, couldn’t have been better. Adam is a good teacher, and I’ve worked with him on Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, so we have a shorthand that made everything easier. I can’t rave about it enough.

TTVJ: I really love that the show is giving us women at all different stages of life. What are some of the challenges of writing those three characters?

LL: The challenge, and it’s not exclusive to this show, with characters that are complex is that you always want to give each character more air time. So you have to make choices of what stories to tell, how to tell them and always wanting to tell more. That’s the biggest challenge in that they are all such interesting characters so you want to explore. They all have unique perspectives that you always end up wanting to do more. There’s also an excitement of having three female leads, which you don’t often have at the focal point of a series, so it’s figuring out how to pace yourself. You’re kind of like a kid in a candy store.

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Bell Media

TTVJ: You’ve written on some procedurals in the past where you have to balance a case of the week with developing really strong characters. What did you learn from those experiences where you’ve got to develop characters within the context of this formula?

LL: I started in this business in what was basically a fantasy land of writing rooms. It was Rookie Blue and Tassie Cameron, Russ Cochrane, Sherry White, Semi Chellas, Esta Spalding, Morwyn Brebner, Ellen Vanstone, Noelle Carbone, Adam Pettle… Those are all people I learned from and just being around those supremely brilliant story brains out of the gate meant I couldn’t ask for better teachers. They showed me a formula that worked so well on television and you try to emulate the people you see doing it really, really well while also bringing your own flavor and voice. Obviously, every show isn’t the same and all the characters are different, and I think The Detail is a bit of a darker take on police work. So we tried to balance the personal and professional in the same ways as other great workplace dramas that are out there.

TTVJ: I assume we’ll be seeing some cases on The Detail that are ripped from recent headlines. Were there any issues in particular you wanted to be sure to tackle in Season 1?

LL: Our development of Season 1 started a few months after the 2016 election, so the women’s marches were going on and there was a feeling in the air that the build was starting. There was a lot of things that we wanted to talk about and after this year, if we are lucky enough to get Season 2, the dialogue seems to have been opened so wide. We wanted to make sure that we were making a show that while yes, it’s a procedural and we have a case of the week, but also make sure that the cases actually told stories in a way that was not exploitative and was compassionate. Episode 5, which was written by Naledi Jackson, is one of our big issue-driven episodes and I can’t spoil, but I think she knocked it out of the park. It’s a good example of the conversations that we hope to spark with this show.

Right now women are angry and we’re speaking up. There’s a lot that needs to change, a lot of catch up that people need to do and the more we incorporate them into storytelling is how things change. The very nature of this being a homicide show with three strong, female leads means that it’s in the DNA of our show.

TTVJ: It’s nice to see women on screen that are more like the experiences I’ve went through, which is women being ambitious and going after they want, but also supporting the other women around them. We don’t always see that so was that something you wanted to make a point of?

LL: We absolutely did! We wanted female characters who always had each other’s backs and you didn’t play out competitions at the workplace among them. These core women are truly invested in the success of each other. Far too often we see women portrayed on television like they are out to get each other or there’s not enough to go around. We’ve always said the love story and primary relationship in this series is these three women. That’s how we broke the series, with that relationship being the central one.

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Bell Media

TTVJ: And outside of your three amazing leads, you have a really amazing ensemble cast here.

LL: It’s amazing and everyone is just so nice. I think Ilana Frank attracts those people. You have Matt Gordon who can do everything. David Cubitt and Matthew Edison are amazingly good and supportive actors. Ben Bass and Al Mukadam are also so incredible. They are all also so unbelievably excited and supportive of the fact that this show is unabashedly female in terms of its perspective.


Did you catch The Detail premiere and are looking forward to more? Add your comments below!

The Detail airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.