Perhaps you tuned into NBC’s Shades of Blue to watch Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps you merely left the television on after that show about James Spader wearing fedoras. Or maybe, like me, you couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something unmistakably cosmic and cosmetic pulling you towards the series, something akin to Lopez and Ray Liotta (and, to an extent, Drea de Matteo) whispering your name and beckoning you to their Thursday-at-10-p.m. timeslot, seducing you like sirens on the network shore. A shore… of blue.
What you need to know is this: Jennifer Lopez plays a cop named Harlee Santos, who is forced to spy on her own band of dirty cops and attend her daughter’s concert recitals. Lopez is kick-ass in her role, which sticks her into a moral ether somewhere between the glossy territory of good cop and the grimy mortar of bad cop. Those oscillations are, ostensibly, the shades of blue which we have been teased.
However! I contend that in titling the series Shades of Blue, both NBC and its viewers have entered into an unspoken contract wherein actual hues of the color blue are not only expected, but promised. In clothing. In scenery. In emotional disposition.
I demand my shades of blue.
So each week, I have taken it upon myself to delineate whether that implicit promise is being upheld. If I am going to be watching Shades of Blue (which I am, because it is delightfully pulpy and J. Lo is giving me full Mysteries of Laura as run through the Instagram filter “Crema”), I am going to be looking specifically for, as it were, blue shades.
Note: Jeans do not count.
Shades of Blue Watch: Episode 1, or, Where Are Blü Now
Our first shade of blue is a technicality: A shade of blue is not worn, but rather, like a brutal storm or reluctant hug, it unexpectedly envelops our hero. No color is more prevalent in today’s world than the soft powder blue glow of a screen, and as such, Harlee gives us more of an atmospheric blue when she records a video log of her dramatic descent into corruption in the first moments of the series. Also, yes, it’s technically more of a shade of grey, but I am not going near that.
Michael Loman, Harlee’s rookie partner, sits in a somber midnight blue jacket after accidentally shooting someone playing video games. His shade of blue says, “I am new at this, but I have also already shot someone playing video games.”
Ray Liotta’s Wozniak, as the crooked-est of all cops, arrives on the crime scene in a blueberry-blue button-down. In the photo above, he is ostensibly asking why nobody else on his team is wearing blue.
In the back freezer of a bar where all the dirty cops meet to disseminate bribes and throw shade at Mysteries of Laura, Wozniak observes his phone, upon which he has Googled this very useful page. Meanwhile, Harlee dons a giant fur hooded parka; despite its lack of blue, it is her best look of the evening.
Drea de Matteo offers a moment of denim respite when her character, Tess, wears a jean jacket from Ann Taylor’s “Skeptical Cop” collection.
UNEXPECTED SHADE OF RED! I’m just checking if you’re paying attention.
In the episode’s most promising display of eponymous coloring, Harlee struts along the sidewalk in a breezy pantsuit with, count ’em, a blue top and bottom. Of particular note, this photo demonstrates what I expect will be a most troubling trend on Shades of Blue: Wozniak, who’s now opted for a pinstripe pattern, seems to really, really love wearing the color blue. If I am to be shown several shades of blue every episode, I pray they are more dazzling than Wozniak’s thrift-store teal.
A criminal flees in a jazzy navy tracksuit shortly before being hit by J. Lo’s car.
Harlee’s FBI handler, Robert Stahl, places the bureau’s secret camera-necklace on Harlee while wearing a slate polo of questionable attractiveness.
Harlee’s daughter Cristina wears a denim shirt, which is different than a denim jacket, which I feel is an important distinction to make.
Once more, Wozniak checks his phone while wearing yet another blue. Sigh. The fear is real: The Shades of Blue in the title are all about Ray Liotta.
Number of shades of blue: 11
Most shades of blue: Wozniak
Episode rating: 6.5/Turquoise