Could Major Crimes Season 3 be dubbed "Great Expectations?"
The first season focused on fairness, while Major Crimes Season 2 centered on identity.
So that brings us to the third season, where James Duff explained to TV Fanatic that expectations can help build or destroy a life - and both the cases and the stories of our regular characters will explore that in the coming episodes.
But what about Rusty’s journey coming out? And is there any truth to the online rumblings that Sharon and Flynn could become a couple? Let’s see if we could break Duff to reveal some of the upcoming truths about the show...
TV Fanatic: Each season of Major Crimes has a theme. What’s the theme for Season 3?
James Duff: It’s how our expectations sometimes shaped our future and how the failure of expectations shapes our future. Sometimes the things that we expect to happen, by trying to avoid the things that we expect will happen, we create worse things.
Expectation in a way is what helps the human species rise to the top of the food chain. Being able to foresee or forecast or imagine what’s beyond the curve separates us from most animals, but when you get beyond the curve, when we get to the future and it’s not what we thought it would be, it’s also an opportunity to flat out ruin your life.
Our first episode, which you saw, is about the expectation of shame and how the expectation of shame and our failure to face that and our failure to deal with that, or our move to avoid dealing with that expectation can lead to tragedy, and often does lead to tragedy. Also, it foretells the basic theme of the season, which is the expectation of family and how we take that expectation for granted and it’s not a right. We have no right to family. It is a great blessing. It is one of the most genuine joys of life, but we have to work on it and even then sometimes it can be taken from us with out warning.
Amongst our crew there is someone who is hunting for family and so that theme resonates very strongly with Rusty and with Sharon and with Provenza. As he says at the end, ‘I’ve been hunting all day to put a family back together so you think I’d be happy about this and I’m not.’ So, we have an expectation of understanding, that people will understand us if we tell the truth, but that doesn’t happen and that’s the second episode. This theme is a really rich vein to mine for stories in our third season and it’s opened up basically a cavern of gold for us.
TVF: When I was on set recently, Mary [McDonnell] and Tony [Denison] teased that there’s a possibility that it could go a little further than what we’ve thought it could go in the past, which makes me think this whole theme of expectations…can you say anything to that?
JD: I think the audience has an expectation of that. They are becoming closer friends. Actually Flynn has misled his family into believing they are even closer to them because he wants…he takes her with him sometimes to his family and to meet his family and the back nine, not this summer, but this winter, we will meet Flynn’s daughter, who thinks she’s coming to talk to her dad’s girlfriend. We’ll deal with that expectation and that hope because that’s more about a hope. He’s trying to prove he’s more stable by lying about his relationship with Sharon.
He says in [episode] 14 that he’s been lying to his ex-wife and Provenza says, ‘Why are you lying to his ex-wife?’ And he thinks about it and he says, ‘Force of habit.’
TVF: When you do hear what the audience is kind of reading into the show and what their expectations are, whether it’s Sharon and Andy or how fast Rusty should come out of the closet, how do you address that?
JD: What I say to the audience is that I’m trying to be authentic all the time, for example, Rusty coming out. I’m gay and when I came out in 1974 to my friends, actually the late summer of 1973 when I was 18-years-old, it was in Lubbock Texas. It was a very different world. It was much harder to live honestly but while things have changed a lot and it’s much easier to live honestly, and much easier to participate in society as a gay person than it was back then, it is still incredibly hard for people to come out. I think we should examine that a little bit.
A big public radio station here has a big panel about that, about how difficult it is, especially for teenagers, to come out. There is this huge pressure on teens nowadays to deal with their sexuality, which I think it’s hard enough managing your hormones as it is. Kids do not want to talk to adults about sex.
Who do you think, watching the show, doesn’t really know already that [Rusty is] gay? The thing is, they’re just waiting for him to come to that conclusion himself. That’s kind of what Provenza hints at and kind of what Rusty says, ‘I’m not ready to talk about that.’ But he will. He’s going to be talking about that…
I think it’ll be interesting because it’s more important to him than it is to anyone else. I think that’s how it is nowadays. Outside your family, when you tell other people who love you, people who really love you, people who really love you are going to love you anyway, that’s my own experience. If they really love you, they’re going to love you anyway.
TVF: Do you mind the show being called a procedural? The show is such a character drama, but I think sometimes it gets lumped into that procedural category of shows.
JD: I don’t think that there is any point in fighting it because we do tell a mystery every week and we do solve a crime every week and we do sort of look at this particular aspect of the justice system and it’s through that lens by which we examine the characters. Even though I agree with you, it is really more of a character piece than it is a standard procedural. We’re still talking about police officers, we’re still talking about stakes of life and death, we’re still talking about how the legal system works.
A good procedural is a joy to watch. I loved watching True Detectives. I wouldn’t call True Detectives a procedural really. It was more about relationship between those two guys. That’s what it sailed on and that’s what ultimately it was about. Yet it is a procedural. Do you know what I mean?
And since everyone confesses on the show, I’ll confess that wherever I go now, without meaning to, I begin to think of how would I pull off a murder here? I was even at a Dodgers game sitting in a sky box, that’s where I got the idea about the skybox tickets. I was thinking ‘how could I have a murder in this skybox that’s real and not phony?’ Then I thought, well no, maybe I would have a murder over skybox tickets and then that led to the Flynn and Provenza episode way, way long ago when they blew off a dead body in order to go to a Dodgers game.
Major Crimes Season 3 airs Mondays at 9/8c on TNT.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.