Created by Richard LaGravenese and Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn, the drama centers on the execution of Jerry Bankowski who was convicted of the murder of the Butler family 11 years prior. The case made Adam Page’s career and set him on the path to become the youngest District Attorney in the city of Philadelphia.
The digging of the nonprofit, The Innocence Initiative, into Adam’s landmark case and the ultimate discovery that Bankowski was, in fact, innocent starts a series of events that prove there were far more players in the murder than originally accounted for.
The plot of the show is extremely intriguing, and I actually look forward to catching it every week. It’s well-written, and I’m always here for some quality storytelling. Yet, my favorite thing about the show is the relationship between two of the main characters—Adam and Bille Page.
I must say they’re my new favorite TV couple. With Claire and Francis Underwood of House of Cards holding my heart until now, I was pretty sure there wasn’t a couple on TV that could surpass them this year. That was until The Divide introduced Billie and Adam Page. Played by Nia Long and Damon Gupton, The Pages are a force to be reckoned with.
Adam Page is a District Attorney with a passion for justice while Billie is an extremely clever and shrewd lawyer who successfully balances her career and her family life. Adam has a strong commitment to integrity, and it is this commitment that forces him to further pursue the truth about the Butler murder even though it could possibly destroy his career and his reputation.
What stands out most to me is that it’s clear that their marriage is a partnership. Not a business arrangement but a true partnership. When Adam doubts everything about his career and his morals it is his wife he goes to. He knows there isn’t a move he can make without the support and council of his partner. Even when he decides to hire Billie’s disgraced brother without her permission he tells her soon after because they agreed to always share everything with each other.
Billie, on the other hand, is supportive of her husband but is not afraid to call him out on his missteps. They have a mutual respect for each other’s ambition but none of the coldness and ruthlessness of the Underwood relationship. It’s obvious that there’s a deep love there.
Long’s portrayal of Billie Page is noteworthy. As any one who has been riding with the timeless actor since Boyz N Da Hood knows, Nia Long is a fine thespian. It’s no surprise that she’s smashing this role. She makes Bille believable without overemphasizing the character’s professionalism or making her loyalty to her husband seem trite or submissive. Billie Page is a wife and a mother who has no problem taking you to task if you are out of order.
Another win for Bille Page is that I’ve sat through three episodes and have yet to get strong trope vibes from her. She’s intense without seeming heartless, and she’s sensitive without seeming weak. In episode 2, when Jenny Butler is recounting the murder of her family Billie holds her hand and sheds tears for her without it coming across as overly dramatic. It’s a small moment that adds to the complexity of Mrs. Page.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all roses for the Pages. In the face of the execution of the wrong man and the potential unraveling of Adam’s career, the couple’s devotion to one another is sure to be tested. Both Billie and Adam have personal ties to this case.
Adam’s father is the current chief of police and was heavily involved in the handling of the trial 11 years ago. One of Billie’s biggest clients is the father of the man whose been named as the true killer of the Butler family. It’s going to be interesting to see how the untangling of this case fares for the relationship, but it appears the Pages have weathered major personal storms before.
I have to applaud the writers of the show for giving each of the main characters room to grow and be multi-dimensional. In the first three episodes we have seen both Adam and Billie struggle with the weight of the choices they’ve made for their career, take an effort to help their family however they can and honor each other for their accomplishments thus far.
I’m extremely hopeful about the story lines and development of these characters especially in a time when finding well-written black characters is like finding a needle in a haystack. We’ve had a solid couple of wins in the past year with Abbie and Jenny Mills on Sleepy Hollow and Stephanie Edwards on Grey’s Anatomy in terms of multi-dimensional presentations of characters of color, but there’s still plenty of room out in these ‘characters of color on TV’ streets for more.