Every year, a show is awarded the coveted spot of airing after the Super Bowl ends. The time slot gives the show a huge ratings boost and millions of viewers, many of whom have no idea what they've gotten themselves into. Let’s face it. Many of us stay are full of snacks, seated on our couches after the confetti has fully covered the football field and suddenly, you're watching The Masked Singer. If you plan to carry out that tradition this year, be prepared to stumble into the action-packed series premiere of The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah. There is something kind of fun about this CBS reboot: Queen Latifah is taking on a role long played by men.
CBS sat on the trailer for The Equalizer reboot for a long time, making this version as mysterious as the leading lady. Latifah (who also doubles as executive producer) plays Robyn McCall, a single mother to a teenage daughter who also spends her time using her secretive, crime-fighting skills to help those who cannot help themselves. While Robyn protects others, she also searches for personal redemption for an unknown past event. Latifah is the first woman to portray the character after Edward Woodward originated the role of a retired intelligence agent named Robert McCall in 1985, whom he played for four seasons on the original CBS series.
Denzel Washington took over in 2014 for a film version of the character named Robert “Bob” McCall, who was a retired Marine and former Defense Intelligence Agency. Washington also reprised the part for a sequel in 2018. Latifah’s version continues the trend of McCall being a hero for innocent people.
Despite the title and character’s name, the 2021 reboot is not directly linked to the previous show or films. At the Television Critics Association 2021 Winter Press Tour in January, co-creator Andrew Marlowe (Castle) said Latifah’s McCall would be the main focus of the show but he wouldn’t reject a potential crossover in other seasons, IndieWire reported. “The notion of the outsider who comes in and helps a little guy has been around for a long time but to have a black woman be the face of justice is really interesting,” Marlowe said on the TCA panel. “This show is speaking very specifically to these times.”
While the show seems particularly pertinent given the 2020 protests against racial injustice, the series was actually given a pilot commitment in 2019. Still, the relevancy of the show and the persistence of racial injustice is what made Latifah interested in taking on the character she watched as a child.
Latifah told Entertainment Tonight she signed onto the series when, “the world was nasty. The world was mean... the world was not fair and it still is not, but I felt like this would be a great opportunity to take all the things I've learned throughout my career and my life and be able to exact some justice. Even if it's just on television. It's a powerful medium and people need to see some justice for a change.”
Latifah’s McCall also brings a crew with her to deliver this justice. Her co-stars include Chris Noth (Sex and the City), Tory Kittles (Colony), Lorraine Toussaint (Orange Is the New Black), Liza Lapira (Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23), and Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused).
She's got existing IP, solid co-stars, and a post-Super Bowl time slot. But it's up to you whether or not this amuse-bouche is enough to call you back for episode 2.