She can be, but not with this show.
If people are supposed to root for former First Daughter and notorious celebrity Hayes Morrison, it’s not done by having her ignore her new role as head of the Conviction Integrity Unit until her mom (Bess Armstrong), now running for Senate, tells her to grow up.
You have her admit she has been wasting her life and will take her job seriously, while others who know her express doubt that she can. That way, like Peggy Carter, she says she knows her worth, and has to convince others of that.
Conviction is about Morrison, who’s given a choice: either face jail time for cocaine possession, or run the CIU, and try to free innocent people who shouldn’t be in jail. That choice is provided by the designated “sexy nemesis”, New York District Attorney Conner Wallace (Eddie Cahill). He’s really hoping this idea will eventually lead to him being Mayor with the help of the Morrisons.
The unit includes a former police officer (Merrin Dungey), an ambitious ADA (Shawn Ashmore) who was supposed to head the unit, but is apparently Wallace’s mole, a paralegal (Emily Kinney) who once gave testimony that sent the wrong guy to jail and a forensics expert (Manny Montana) who was also an ex-con. They all something to prove, just like Hayes.
They work to overturn the murder conviction of a former high school football star convicted of killing his girlfriend. They find some holes in the case, and Hayes does talk to the victim’s mom…in Spanish. However, they don’t find a suspect until the final ten minutes of the episode. The pilot was more interested in how much of a bad girl Hayes is, and how she is trying to get out of her job because it interferes with her ability to go braless or read Infinite Jest.
It did mention that Hayes has an excellent legal mind, and taught in law school for a while. She’s got a brother she likes a lot, but has issues with her parents. Making her a hybrid of Patti Davis and Paris Hilton doesn’t help in making her a hero people will want to see every Monday. Of course, she does take her job seriously eventually, and will do so from now on. It would be great if there was no chance she’d consider Wallace as a love interest, or that he take on a CIU case or two. That will help the show.
It’s odd to hear Atwell with an American accent, even if she did that on Agent Carter, but she pulls it off well. Making her bilingual is a nice touch. She will likely add a lot to the show, but the script doesn’t help her. Again, she should have admitted she should turn over a new leaf immediately, not when her mom tells her she could accomplish a lot if she just tried.
Conviction could have a chance at its Monday 10 PM time slot, competing against NBC’s Timeless and CBS’ Scorpion. If the show can make Hayes more of a legal genius and much less of a tabloid celebrity, it’s got a chance.