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‘Mysteries of Laura’ Reviews: Debra Messing’s a Mom, a Cop, and She’s Got the Worst New Show of the Fall

Mysteries of Laura Review: Debra Messing on NBC

This may be an observation as hacky as “The Mysteries of Laura” itself, but as critics sift through the carnage of this NBC pilot starring Debra Messing as a woman who — counter to all human sense — manages to be both a homicide detective and a mother of two (I know, crazy, right?), their main object of investigation is how it got on the air in the first place. “A bigger mystery than ‘How can a woman be a cop and a mom?’ is why in the world NBC picked up this show,” writes HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, while the Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman can only guess, “Maybe a pig stood on a buzzer at some audience testing facility, and here we are.”

Sepinwall is the only critic to outright suggest that “The Mysteries of Laura” may be the worst new show of the fall, but it doesn’t seem like he’d get much argument from his peers, whose bafflement translates into some of the most entertaining reviews the season has yet produced. (I feel a little guilty for being glad the show exists if only to prompt such delightfully outraged pans.) The only thing left to do is sing along with NPR’s Linda Holmes, who took advantage of a traffic jam to finally lay down her own theme song for the show she unaffectionately refers to as “Copmom Momcop.” I’ll take “Copmom Momcop / bad guys go down / Momcop Copmom / She will turn this car around” over “Laura’s” “I’m just a mother with a shiny badge, a loaded gun and very little patience,” any day of the week.

“The Mysteries of Laura” airs tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC, and subsequent Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

The series’ awful pilot episode inadvertently solves the big mystery of how Laura (Debra Messing) can, in the year 2014, somehow, some way, improbably be both cop and mom: Laura’s able to do both because she is a spectacularly awful mother, and human being in general. 

James Poniewozik, Time

Yes, “Mysteries of Laura,” you can have it all! You can be a terrible cop show and a terrible parenting show. You can be a ridiculous drama and an unfunny comedy. You can try to glom on to the legitimate problems of working mothers yet insult them, and your audience in general, in the process.

Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter

Nobody had the guts to say, “This is a terrible script. It should be completely rewritten by someone who can write.” Nor did they say, later, “We just pissed away millions of dollars on this crappy pilot. Can we just agree that we’ve made a horrible mistake, not pick this up and pretend it never happened?” Instead, everybody must have ignored the striking warning signs and said nothing when given the chance.

Margaret Lyons, Vulture

The mystery is bad, the police work is bad, the home-life stories are bad, everything is bad. This is a bad, bad show.

Caroline Framke, A.V. Club

This faux-coolness is the problem with much of the show’s pilot. It’s rarely clever, but there’s a pervading sense throughout that “The Mysteries of Laura” thinks it’s very clever.

Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

Drama may morph to dramedy, but “The Mysteries of Laura” is not a sitcom, and too often Messing is allowed to forget that, playing, big, as if to a live audience. Which isn’t, you know, there.

Hank Steuver, Washington Post

The pilot is woefully lacking the nuance and inventive wit that would help make “The Mysteries of Laura” more worthy of her talents. It’s hard to imagine that busy parents will find solace in sparing a precious, post-bedtime hour watching Laura dash around the house in her Spanx and dose her sons with cough syrup to get them to calm down. The show itself could use a swig, too.

Brian Lowry, Variety

Whatever good will the series musters with its easy-going tone — which, the grimmer cop stuff notwithstanding, comes through in the family scenes and Laura’s banter with her partner (Laz Alonzo) — is squandered not only by the familiarity of its story beats but the haphazard way they’re thrown together, courtesy of writer-showrunner Jeff Rake, who adapted a Spanish series; and director McG, whose fast-paced style seems wasted on this material.

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