Another week of Made in Jersey and it’s still impossible to pin down exactly why we should care about Martina Garretti, despite “Cacti” offering up a vaguely interesting case for her to solve.
We begin the episode with that case of the week as Martina receives a desperate plea from Hanna, a Schizophrenic who has only recently come out of an 11-year catatonic state. On top of this, it’s the understanding that she killed her boyfriend on the night of the psychotic break, but denies it now with a clear head and a life to live. Martina, ever the fan of an underdog, agrees to disprove the grave accusations, and sets about finding the real murderer.
Now, there’s an interesting depiction of mental illness and the part it plays in a courtroom here, but Made in Jersey doesn’t seem concerned with diverging from the tried and tested formula cemented by its fellow procedural dramas over the years. The show still seems reluctant to go any further with its own ideas and looks cowardly for it. The pitch for the show was ‘every underdog has her day’ but Martina is still gliding through with little resistance from friends, co-workers or family, and we’re denied a messy courtroom battle in which Hannah’s mental illness is used on both sides.
To change people’s biased or prejudiced opinions, we first have to depict both sides of an argument on shows such as these, and I can’t help but feel like Made in Jersey is missing a trick in that regard. There’s also no attempt to reconcile the case with Martina’s personal life, something that is known to make a law/police/hospital procedural infinitely more interesting and relatable. Had this episode been part of any other series, one of the central characters would have experience of either mental illness or childhood abuse (which is revealed as the cause for Hannah’s break) and, though this might be refreshingly honest, it’s just not as compelling.
We’re given little reason to care about Martina, making scenes at home with her pantomime family all the more painful. Watching one of the sisters bring home a nice, cultured boyfriend and being told ‘he’s not for you’ is agonizing and not at all helpful for an audience hoping to see something fresh and new on their screens. The one interesting factor of the episode is actually the introduction of Tommy (Enver Gjokaj), an opposing lawyer who turns out to be Martina’s high school ex-boyfriend. Gjokaj has always been a likeable actor, so I’m looking forward to what his character might bring to the show in the future.
What did you think of the episode? Is Martina a likeable character in her own right or do audiences need a little push? Let us know in the comments.
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