ABC’s new drama The Family, which premieres on Thursday, March 3 before moving to its regular Sunday time slot on March 6, centers on the dramatic return of Adam Warren, the youngest child of a Maine politician, to his hometown 10 years after he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The pilot focuses on the shocked response of Adam’s parents and siblings, the neighbor who was convicted of his murder, and the cop who put him behind bars. Only one character keeps her cool throughout the episode, superchill newspaperwoman Bridey Howard (Floriana Lima), who seems to know more about the case—and the Warren family—than anyone else. Even stranger than Bridey’s apparent calm in the face of a fire-breathing editor is her job description: She writes her paper’s lesbian lifestyle blog.
At this winter’s Television Critics Association gathering, I asked The Family’s creator and showrunner, Jenna Bans, why she gave Bridey that particular occupation. “I knew I wanted her to be a little bit of an underdog,” she told me, “so this blogger who was really ambitious and looking to get a career by getting this story” made sense. “Her sexuality definitely plays into the dynamic with the family as we’re going forward, so I knew I wanted that aspect to her. They just kind of came together,” she said.
Does Bans think it’s common for small-town Maine newspapers to have lesbian lifestyle bloggers on staff? She explained that the show was originally set in California, but when they hired New York-based actress Joan Allen to play gubernatorial candidate Claire Warren, they decided to film on the East Coast instead, and shifted the fictional action to the pine tree state. “I don’t know if they exist in Maine,” Bans told me, “but I hope they do.”