Tonight is the premiere of one of our most anticipated shows, ABC's Killer Women. Before we dive into eight weeks of femme fatales, BFTV sat down with executive producer Hannah Shakespeare to be briefed on what we can expect from the season and what it's like to be the woman behind Killer Women.
Adapted from the Argentine series Mujeres Asesinas, Killer Women centers on Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer), a Texas Ranger on the trail of some dangerous ladies. How did the show make the leap to American television? "The project originated via Latin World Entertainment. Latin World purchased the Latin-American format and partnered with [production company] Electus. Electus approached me to write it," explained Hannah. "I was interested in the psychology of female killers, and wanted to write a series created for a strong female lead. The title was...killer, too."
"I have not seen the original format," she continued. "I wanted to create something from scratch, and used the idea of female felons as a jumping-off place. Because the Texas Rangers are so unique amd have such a rich history, I posited that they might indeed have a female detective who specializes in female killers. Indeed, I ended up working with the real first female Texas Ranger."
With only eight episodes in the season, Killer Women has a relatively short order. How did that affect Hannah's writing process? It may have actually been a help rather than a hindrance. "The eight-episode order was key to story development," she told us. "The show is episodic, with a case of the week, but I wanted to delve into Molly Parker's personal life. I developed an eight-week arc for the family, so that in the last episode, the personal story becomes the case and Molly's two worlds collide. Violently."
Chances are you'll find yourself wanting more than eight episodes, though, considering the caliber of this fantastic cast. Aside from the fantastic Ms. Helfer, there's former Necessary Roughness star Marc Blucas, our criminally (ha) underrated favorite Michael Trucco, and the lovely Marta Milans, plus Alex Fernandez as Molly's boss, guest stars that include Leverage's Beth Riesgraf, and the ever-reliable Jeffrey Nordling playing yet another ex-spouse. Top to bottom, it's just a great roster.
"[The] cast is truly pure perfection for me," Hannah enthused. "Tricia is Molly Parker. Not only is she gorgeous, she's filled with an integrity I respect enormously, and can write too. The supporting cast is vastly talented and when I realized the many levels each key actor can draw from, I started to craft story to their skill. For example, Marta Milans is a classically trained singer, so I gave her a big Selena song to sing at the opening of episode five to celebrate her daughter's quinceanera. Tricia, Marc and Michael are motorcycle fanatics, so I put them on bikes. [The] cast is a really cool group of people - a dream team."
Being the executive producer of a primetime TV show is a job many fans would love to have, so we asked Hannah to walk us through what it's been like for her to help pull this series together. "[My] day to day was spent on set," she explained. "With seven other writers, Ed Zuckerman - the showrunner - and I drafted the episodes over the summer, and then I flew to Albuquerque to be on set for rewrites and to keep tone of show during the fall. That meant watching shots, working wardrobe, speaking to editors back in Los Angeles, and dealing with budget issues and locations.
"[It was a] super fun time; [we had a] great crew in Albuquerque," she added. "The most fun was being on set and watching it come to life. It's a modern-day western, and I grew up riding horses, et cetera, so being on set with working cowboys was great fun. We crossed the Rio Grande in an episode, and worked with a huge longhorn named Big Boy."
Of course, we couldn't let Hannah get away without asking her if she could tease anything regarding what we're about to see. "There is an arc that centers on a secret Molly Parker holds," she hinted. "She finds the strength to face her deepest fear, but it takes several episodes for her to reveal the truth to her family and the world. I am proud of the storyline because it tackles fear, and I think the world is improved when fear is lessened."
"I'd like audiences to believe in real-life heroes," Hannah told us. "Molly Parker is guided by a strong integrity, and I think that is inspiring." Not only is she inspiring, she's beyond entertaining. Here's to hoping that we get to accompany Molly on her adventures for seasons to come.
Killer Women premieres tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on ABC. For more on the show, be sure to tune back in here, as we'll be recapping every Tuesday night.