Stumptown (2019)

Like many in May 2020, I was ecstatic that ABC had renewed the show Stumptown, starring Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, and Michael Ealy. It was easily my favorite new show of the 2019/2020 season. It was funny, intriguing, well acted, and had a diverse and inclusive cast, as well as stories being told on screen. What initially made me want to show is Cobie Smulders. I loved her in How I Met Your Mother, and had seen her in quite a lot of her other projects. I had no idea that this was based off a graphic novel of the same name, but having Cobie in the show was the only thing I needed to start watching it. From the very first episode, I fell in love with Dex Parios, and her satirical, loving, nonchalant, epically cool way of being. Dex is an army vet suffering with PTSD, and is attempting to pay off her gambling debt by becoming a private investigator. Of course, nothing ever goes perfectly, and she runs into trouble now and then. But, the incredible storytelling and weaving of development of those stories and the characters made it appealing and exciting enough to continue watching.

 Stumptown features New Girl vet Jake Johnson as Grey McConnell, a bar owner with a criminal past. Having seen him in more comedic roles, it was really cool to see him as a more hardened, keep his cards close to his chest, kind of guy. It also features Michael Ealy as Detective Miles Hoffman, who is constantly trying to keep Dex out of trouble as she cuts corners in her PI jobs. The show also stars Cole Sibus as Dex’s younger brother Ansel; Tantoo Cardinal as Sue Lynn Blackbird, a local casino owner and mother of Dex’s dead fiancé; Adrian Martinez as teddy bear and chef extraordinaire, Tookie; and Camryn Manheim Hoffman’s boss, Lieutenant Cosgrove.

The show integrated storylines dealing with indigenous history, traditions, and rights, as well as of someone struggling with PTSD, and that of a man with down syndrome wanting to be independent and not have to rely on his sister. These were the storylines that stood out the most to me, and were handled with absolute care and respect. I applaud the writers for doing so, because even though it should be a given that that is done, it most often is not. Another thing I love about Stumptown is that its lead character, Dex, was bisexual, and actually showed her having relationships or flings with both men and women. Not once did they make it a big deal that she was bi, that was just one part of who she was, and it didn’t define her. As someone who is bi myself, I loved seeing the representation, especially in a character I really liked, played by an actress I admired.

Sadly, in September 2020, after months of halted production in Hollywood due to COVID-19, ABC reversed the renewal they had just made months before. They cited production reasons, as with the future of filming being up in the air, they couldn’t afford to wait to begin production. As reported in Deadline, “As a high-end drama, Stumptown already was among the most expensive second-year broadcast TV scripted series. Additionally, with elaborate stunts, extensive location shoots and romance, Stumptown is the type of series most impacted by COVID-related restrictions, limiting the kind of scenes the show could do and leading to significant budget increases.”

Upon hearing this news, I, like many others, was heartbroken. I was really excited to see where they were headed with season two, and I of course wanted to see more of this cast together on screen. I will miss them terribly. At least I can rewatch the show on Hulu and remember the good ol’ times.

Isabel Maina

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