May 18, 2024

What happens when the kidnapped becomes the kidnapper? That’s now the around NBC’s “Found,” which debuts on Tuesday on NBC. Originally, the logline for the Shanola Hampton-led drama series read: “Public relations specialist Gabi Mosely — who was once herself one of those forgotten ones — and her crisis management team now make sure there is always someone looking out for the forgotten missing people. But unbeknownst to anyone, this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own.”

On Sept. 12, that second part of that description changed to: “Gabi was once herself one of those forgotten ones, and is still hiding a chilling secret of her own – she has found her kidnapper, Sir, (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), and uses his twisted expertise to help solve their cases.”

Additionally, the trailers share Gabi’s secret and the fact that Sir is desperate to get out. Showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll isn’t positive that the change was the right move, but she put her trust completely in the marketing team.

“They just felt it made such an impactful difference in terms of setting the show apart from anything else that has been on the air, in terms of a missing person show, and giving the audience a taste of what the whole series really is. It’s not just the heartfelt cases,” she says. “I still don’t know if we made the right call revealing it or not, but I do know that they’ve done an exceptional job in the marketing so I’m running with it.”

The marketing change hoped to get the point across that the series will not only highlight Gabi and others who were once missing now using their experience for good, but also “about what happens when the healing doesn’t quite go right.” It also introduces a bigger question, Carroll says: “How far is too far to save a life? Where is the line — or what happens when you don’t feel you have a line? It is also a show that does tackle all of those things.”

Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely
Matt Miller/NBC

“Across the first season, not only are we going to tell the story in the past timeline where we also will learn how she ended up in his farmhouse as a teenager, simultaneously, in present day, we’re also going to unpack how that situation got reversed now in adulthood,” says Carroll of what to expect between Hampton and Gosselaar’s characters. “When and how did she find him? What triggered it and why is he now here, helping her with her cases. Whether it’s involuntary or not, he’s a resource. He’s the Hannibal to her Clarice, for lack of a better comparison. She’s making the best of this insane situation and using him for good, though some would argue that does not justify what is happening. But we will unpack on both timelines how they ended up in the situations there.”

The writer promises that, although Gosselaar is very charming, there won’t be a positive light shone on Sir.

“That was something I made clear in the pitch, like just to be clear, there is no redemption for kidnapping a girl and taking a year of her life and and keeping her from her loved ones. There is no justification for that, there is no redemption for that,” she explains. “Even after we cast Mark-Paul Gosselaar, I was like, just so we’re clear, there’s no redeeming what Sir did. There is understanding more of what goes into the psychology of someone like that.”

She continues, “Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, Shanola Hampton and Mark-Paul Gosselaar have amazing chemistry. When the two of them are on screen together, we’re literally like, did we do our jobs too well? I think it adds such an interesting dynamic because they are both so phenomenal in their roles. There’s no answers. There’s just complication. And if the audience is arguing the way we’re arguing, I’m okay with that.”

Although we live in a world where there’s an uncomfortable thirst for the villain — see the reaction to “Dahmer,” for example — that won’t be the case here. “It’s nice and juicy and complicated, but from my perspective,” she says, “there is no redeeming the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world, and that would also apply to Sir.”

“Found” premieres on NBC Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. ET.

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