By Derek Lawrence
September 17, 2019 at 12:19 PM EDT
Fall TV
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Scrappy, resourceful, fun, and heartfelt.

That is how Stumptown star Michael Ealy describes both his new ABC series and the protagonist at the center, Dex Parios, played by Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Avengers). Adapted from Greg Rucka’s series of graphic novels, Stumptown follows Dex, an aspiring Portland private investigator who has more flaws than cases.

Ahead of the Sept. 25 debut, the cast and creative team gathered Monday night at Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum for the Stumptown premiere event, which was hosted by ABC and EW, as well as a conversation on why TV needs a Dex Parios.

“What I recognized around page 3 of the novel is that this character didn’t exist on television,” shared executive producer Jason Richman. “A flawed female character, who is very human, and wasn’t reliant on a male character — why did this character not exist? So I went looking for this character and I found versions of it, but they were all superheroes or had some high-concept like they could see the undead. [Laughs] But there was never just a normal human being. As a father of a daughter, where is that woman [she] could relate to?”

David Bukach/ABC

Added Ealy: “We don’t present the female lead as a catch that is looking for love. We go in the polar opposite way of that.”

For Smulders, who has been frequently popping up in the MCU as Maria Hill, she’s glad to have the chance to really dig into a “complicated” character. “I think when you decide to do something over the course of multiple episodes you really have to enjoy that character and see a lot of opportunity and growth and change,” said Smulders. “We meet her and she’s at this point of her life where she doesn’t have any direction and is facing some major things, such as PTSD and addictions, which I think takes an enormous amount of strength, and she does it bravely. I’m just excited to be on an adventure and stay with this character and watch her evolve over time.”

Todd Wawrychuk/ABC

Executive producer Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Venom) likes that Stumptown has a “throwback quality” to the “classic P.I. dramas from the ’80s” that he loved growing up, while Tantoo Cardinal, who plays Sue Lynn Blackbird, is thankful for the show’s diverse group of “misfits.”

“It’s a bunch of people that I’ve met here and there,” she shared. “You don’t usually see them in the same bunch, but it’s diversity in the sense that this is a scope that you might find on the street. For me, I’ve been kind of lonesome and searching for an experience of people from different worlds all coming together.”

Stumptown, which also stars Jake Johnson and Camryn Manheim, premieres Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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