Speaking of formula, “Found,” premiering on October 3rd at 10 pm EST, leans so far into its clichés that it becomes more of a soap opera than a traditional network procedural. This one is just a misfire on all levels, a show so dense with overheated dialogue and character choices that it verges on parody. The fact that it deals with highly emotional subjects like sex trafficking and children in danger only makes the whole venture feel icky and exploitative.
“Found” is about a woman who is quite literally horrible at her job in the sense that every case in the episodes screened becomes about her more than the victims. And the performances are all pitched to the cheap seats in a show that wears its Very Important subject matter like a badge of honor, as if making a bad drama about kidnapped children is so urgent that it will make the world a better place purely by existing. It’s the “Sound of Freedom” of network dramas.
Shanola Hampton plays Gabi Mosely, a woman who herself was once a kidnapping victim held prisoner by a sociopath (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). The trauma of that event has made Mosely a warrior for the thousands of kidnapped people who don’t get the same media attention as a politician’s white daughter—the show basically opens with an angry speech about the disparity in media attention for victims of color, one of many true issues in society that feels used here for cheap thrills. And that sense that “Found” is using real hot-button issues to get attention pervades every episode.
It doesn’t help that most people around Mosely have their own traumas to unpack, including a kidnapped child or severe agoraphobia. But the coup de grace, something revealed in the ads for the show, is that Mosely turned the tables on her kidnapper and locked him up in her basement, using him like Clarice used Hannibal Lecter to help find the bad guys. It’s an insane pitch that maybe could have worked with sharper dialogue and characters who didn’t feel like mouthpieces, but doesn’t click here at all. Gosselaar is fine—as is some of the supporting cast—but Hampton doesn’t work, although saddling her with practically nothing but clichés to spout on the level of “That’s not a threat, it’s a promise” only leaves an actress searching for some actual human being to play and ending up, well, lost.
Three episodes of each were screened for review.