Elizabeth Laidlaw, The Red Line's officer Vic, explains the show's approach to tackling systemic racism

Elizabeth Laidlaw, The Red Line's officer Vic, explains the show's approach to tackling systemic racism

In 'The Red Line', a CBS drama based in Chicago, a Caucasian police officer Paul Evans shoots an African American doctor, Harrison Brennan, after a convenience store robbery goes wrong. This tragedy connects three families directly affected by it and shows their struggle to comes to terms with this reality.

What makes the CBS drama truly unique, does not lie in the fact that it tackles the issue of racism that America is, and has been struggling with for the longest time. But, more importantly, it brings to fore the issue of systemic racism. And it does so with the very person at whose hands the tragedy begins - officer Paul Evans. 

Officer Paul Evans (Image: The Red Line on Twitter)

Officer Paul Evans (played by 'Shameless' alumnus Noel Fisher) pulls the trigger on Brennan without a warning after he rushes into the convenience store and finds the doctor leaned over the counter in an attempt to help the injured store manager.


His partner on duty, officer Victoria Renna, goes out of her way - tampering with evidence - in order to protect him. Why? Because partners on the force always have each others' back. She truly thinks it's her duty to protect Evans even giving him the false sense of security by telling him he did everything right and has nothing to worry about in court. 

Not just officer Vic, Evans is repeatedly told by those closest to him that he's the "good guy" to the point that he himself believes it. And it is this very aspect of systemic racism that 'The Red Line' addresses. "[The show] tackles the question [of systemic racism] by presenting Paul Evans as someone who thinks of himself as a 'good guy,' an identity that is reinforced repeatedly by the people closest to him," Elizabeth Laidlaw, who plays Officer Vic told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

Officer Vic, played by Elizabeth Laidlaw, and Officer Paul Evans, played by Noel Fisher, in 'The Red Line' on CBS. (Image: The Red Line/Twitter)

It is not like those closest to Evans do not know and realize what he did was essentially wrong - pulling the trigger without a warning and shooting an innocent black man, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. But they choose to see it as a mistake. 

"They are all aware and afraid of the repercussions of his [Evans'] actions the night he killed Harrison [Brennan], they all insist on viewing it through the lens of 'a terrible mistake.' What none of them is able to immediately see or acknowledge is that he unconsciously made a snap decision about Harrison based on what he looked like, and acted instinctively based on deeply ingrained bias," Laidlaw added.

'The Red Line' takes a story we all see in newsprint and makes it our own with compassionate storytelling. 

"[The show] doesn’t excuse the actions of Paul, Vic, the Chicago Police Department, it doesn’t look away from Jim’s racially charged anger, but it contextualizes these things. In doing so, the show might help to further a conversation, rather than a shouting match. Maybe there can be more listening, more calm talking, and less anger. That’s the hope, anyway," she concluded.


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 Elizabeth Laidlaw The Red Line CBS systemic racism America black shooting police brutality