Why you'll be as obsessed with the new CTV drama ‘Rebel’ as we are

Annie ‘Rebel’ Bello may be your new favourite TV character.
Published April 2, 2021 4:20 p.m. EST
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In need of a hot new female-forward drama to make your week complete? No worries, because CTV’s anticipated TV series Rebel (premiering Thursday, April 8 at 10 pET) has you covered.

The show revolves around a funny, brilliant, and completely messy female activist who fights hard for the cases and the people she believes in—and all without a law degree. It’s the perfect new companion piece to your current Thursday night double-feature of Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy. Read on to find out why you’ll be just as obsessed with the buzzy new series as early viewers have been.

The cast is pretty legit

Katey Sagal brings serious credibility to Annie ‘Rebel’ Bello, a.k.a. the leading character on this series. But the Sons of Anarchy and Married… With Children star isn’t the only familiar face on this cast of characters. Joining her are John Corbett (Sex and the City), Tamala Jones (Bones), Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl), Sam Palladio (Nashville), Lex Scott Davis (The L Word: Generation Q), Ariela Barer (Atypical), James Lesure (Good Girls) and Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven). In other words? This is an all-star cast that’s going to bring some serious drama every week.

“This is a really rare thing I've never experienced in my career. As I was writing this pilot, you have prototype actors in mind. You're picturing people. And I was picturing Katey Sagal, Andy Garcia and John Corbett as I wrote… And then it's like, we got Andy Garcia and John Corbett,” showrunner Krista Vernoff said recently during the virtual Television Critics Association press tour. “Like, that's thrilling.”

“I love working on this show,” added Jones. “The casting situation, I was nervous and full of anxiety because I've always been a huge fan of Katey Sagal and, I mean, Andy Garcia and John Corbett on Sex and the City. He was Aiden. I mean, I'm freakin' working with Aiden.”

You probably already love the creative team behind-the-scenes

Does the name Krista Vernoff sound familiar? That’s because she’s also the current creative force behind Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19. So putting Rebel on the same schedule as those other shows on Thursday night actually makes a lot of sense. Watch for some of her signature plot twists and epic character monologues in this series, but also expect all of the same heart. Heart, plus that same fearless writing that tackles important issues. In the pilot, that means setting up a fight against the fictional company Stonemore Medical.

For Sagal, who is also an executive producer on the series, that fight and the passion that Rebel brings to such circumstances were all reasons to take this part. “I would say that if she were a lawyer, she'd be limited, way limited. What I love so much about Rebel is she can cross a few lines. She can go outside the box… she just pushes a little bit further,” Sagal said. “Her primary purpose is to do the right thing, is to fight for the right thing. Sometimes legal mumbo jumbo can make that a little bit confusing when it's actually a very straight line in terms of what's right.” 

The series is based on one of the most famous larger-than-life characters around

If this story is starting to sound a little bit familiar too, that’s because it’s based on Erin Brockovich, a.k.a. the activist made super famous by Julia Roberts in the 2000 film Erin Brockovich. If you’ll recall, Roberts won an Oscar for the role.

Brockovich is every bit as involved in this series, on which she too serves as an executive producer. According to Sagal and Vernoff the woman is absolutely larger-than-life, and using her experiences on set and in the writers’ room leads to some great scenes and material.

“It's surreal,” Brockovich said of becoming a TV character. “I'm so happy, though, because this [show] and this cast is so amazing, and it's so timely.”

This isn’t Erin Brockovich like you’ve seen her before

Roberts’ portrayal of Brockovich gave viewers an idea of what it was like for the activist to make a mark when she was in her 30s. This version of the character has aged and gained new experiences since then, which is very much in-tune with what the real-life personality has gone through in her life.

“I'm a little older now. I'm a little wiser. I still am just as frustrated at being underestimated or put into a box, oftentimes which results in my, you know, trying to jump out of that box however I can,” she said. “It is a different character. I have different approaches, different ways that I handle it. I can still be up in your face, but only when I'm pushed to that corner. It’s an evolution.”

You may even find yourself a little bit inspired

While drama is the name of the game, this series is also meant to uplift and inspire everyone who watches it. That’s kind of what Brockovich does in her every day, and Sagal is taking that to heart as the character.

“There's a lot of service to the project. There's a lot of messaging and service wrapped in entertainment,” she explained. “What attracted me to the project was not only the amazing script and amazing people and Erin, but the messaging and the opportunity to be of service in some way, which is what we are all looking to do in our ways.”

“I feel like we've made a show that is going to offer people some light in the darkness,” added Vernoff. “[There’s] some humour and some connection and some inspiration… there's always more you can do.”

Rebel debuts Thursday, April 8 at 10 pET on CTV. 

RELATED: Why we can't wait for the new Erin Brockovich show 'Rebel'

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