I didn’t plan it so that I would watch The Americans from start to finish only months before Matthew Rhys would play the titular character in Perry Mason, but that’s what happened. Rhys is excellent when it comes to playing the guy who hits a rough patch and can barely pick himself up. Perry Mason drinks, has questionable morals, and isn’t always kind. In the end, he turns things around by becoming a lawyer and doing everything in his power to help Emily Dodson. His journey was rocky, to say the least, but his heart was always in the right place.
Rhys is not the only powerhouse in the cast. Tatiana Maslany runs with every scene she’s in as Sister Alice McKeegan. With how much white she wears, she’s a stark contrast to every other main character in the show. She’s loud when she’s preaching, but behind-the-scenes we get a more vulnerable look at the character.
At first, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about Perry Mason. The first few episodes introduced quite a few characters. It was hard to keep the connections straight. With only 8 episodes, the show had a tall task of stringing it all together, but it accomplished it.
Perry Mason begins the season as a struggling private investigator who is on the verge of losing his family home. He rarely gets to see his son, constantly finds a way to screw up, and his whole situation looks pretty dire. It takes a big loss for him to start turning his life around. When he becomes a lawyer, that’s when things start to fall into place at least a little for him. Since we know the show has been renewed for a second season, Mason will get the chance to come into his own as a lawyer. He was essentially thrown to the wolves with his first case, which is not the most ideal situation.
Mason’s storyline isn’t the only compelling one throughout the first season. Della Street keeps a secret from those around her. However, the audience is let in on her sexual preference. The show makes you very aware that in 1932, you kept that to yourself. She’s such a strong character and yet can’t fully be herself in public. It’s the private moments that make you appreciate her and everything she goes through on a daily basis.
Emily Dodson, the woman on trial, suffered the greatest loss. Yet, as you learn more about her, how you feel about her is not clear-cut. She lied, she cheated, but she is also a victim. After her trial, she pretends her baby boy is back and perpetuates the lying. A mother losing a child should never feel as conflicting as it does here. The community struggles with it and it’s okay to struggle with it as a viewer, too.
Not only is Perry Mason touching on religion, sexuality, and murder, but it dives into racism as well. Paul Drake is a Black beat cop hired to patrol Black neighborhoods. His peers look down on him. They try to pay him off, but he refuses to be one of them. In 2020, this is still a relevant topic. Drake struggles with what he’s asked to do. He wants to be a good cop but knows that isn’t possible. His fresh start comes when Perry Mason decides to continue being a lawyer. It might not change how people look at him, but it’s a much less toxic workplace.
From start to finish, Perry Mason keeps you wondering what happens next. It was never obvious that Emily Dodson would not be hanged for her alleged crimes. Alice takes an unexpected turn in her journey. Perry isn’t half bad as a lawyer and that makes me excited for what comes in season 2.
If you haven’t watched the show, check it out on HBO Max. It’s worth your time.