Deadline reports that The CW is developing a drama about a young undercover agent who discovers a sleeper cell of terrorists at an elite New York university, becoming the focus of an investigation by the FBI and New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force. The CW—which describes this show as a cross between Alias and Homeland—is part of a family of networks that includes Showtime and CBS, two channels that have also developed their own shows about terrorism in the last few years, with mixed success: Homeland, now in its third season, and Hostages, which debuted this past fall. And clearly, The CW will not be left behind in those efforts to create as many fake terrorist plots on television as possible. The as-yet-untitled project will be helmed by the creators of the forgettable Memphis Beat, a TNT cop show starring Jason Lee.
But wait, there's more: The network is reportedly developing two shows about terrorism. The second is a Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman production about a young woman from Brooklyn who's recruited by the CIA expressly so she can infiltrate the Texas home of her biological family, a dynasty with possible international criminal connections.
Considering the disaster that is Hostages and the mixed reviews from Homeland's third season, plots about terrorism are not, in and of themselves, recipes for great television. Nevertheless, Alias was pretty great, and The CW has had a lot of success with producing shows about teenagers for teenagers. Still, its most successful shows have all been genre fiction, like The Vampire Diaries or Supernatural, or period dramas, like Reign. A show about terrorism would be a bit of a departure for the network, unless the sleeper cell is a cell of werewolves or something.
But a focus on geopolitics could be a new angle for the network, once it figures out how to make it interesting to those same teenagers. So hopefully The CW finds a way to make terrorist plots as campy, soapy, and ridiculous as its other shows. The undercover agent falls in love with a terrorist? Homeland did that. Falls in love with her handler? Alias did that. Falls in love with her captors? Hostages is sort of doing that right now. Falls in love with… the President? Definitely the President.