There isn’t a gang in Los Angeles that the new Fox crime drama “Gang Related” doesn’t explore.
Russian, Korean, Latino, African American, white and more are brought to vivid, bloody life over the course of the first season, which stars Ramon Rodriguez (“Battle Los Angeles,” “The Wire”) as Det. Ramon Rodriguez, an ex-gang member who is now part of the elite Los Angeles Gang Task Force.
Ryan’s past in the Los Angelicos gang is his secret, and it promises to be his undoing as he is forced to reconcile the demons of his past with the demons he fights in his present.
The show was created by Chris Morgan. Scott Rosenbaum and Brian Grazer are executive producers. Other cast members include Terry O’Quinn, Rza, Jay Hernandez and Cliff Curtis.
It’s an ethnically diverse cast, to be sure, and much was remarked about that fact during the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Monday.
The diversity, it turns out, also extends to the writers room, where there are three African Americans, three Latinos, and Rosenbaum and Morgan, who are white.
“It was something we were cognizant of from the beginning,” Rosenbaum said. “Because we have such a diverse cast, we didn’t want the actors to read the scripts and think they’re being written by somebody who doesn’t know their world.”
Another important factor in the creation of the show was that the gang life did not come across as cliche. Morgan said that the idea was that this was a universe of gray, not black and white, with members joining gangs for protection and love of family, then moving into the violence that comes with it.
“Every hero has a dark side, and every villain has something heroic to them,” he said.
In the minds of many in Hollywood, there is also something heroic about the show itself: It’s the first of its kind in quite some time to film in Los Angeles. Over the years, productions have been forced elsewhere by prohibitive tax codes and zoning laws.
Grazer said that the “Gang Related” team is thrilled to be shooting in L.A., and Morgan added that their goal is to shed light on parts of Los Angeles that many people aren’t familiar with. The vibe, they say, is gritty and distinctly Michael Mann.
“With the pilot, what we all wanted was the combination of the beauty of L.A., but also the grittiness,” said Rosenbaum. “There’s dirt on the actors’ faces when there should be dirt, and blood when there should be blood.”