You may think you know the series title “American Gothic” already, but there’s a catch. And, as it happens, a Ketch.
CBS aired a drama by that name (developed by Shaun Cassidy and Sam Raimi) in the mid-1990s, but the network now has another one with a different concept. Premiering Wednesday (June 22), the show focuses on Boston’s prominent Hawthorne family, which has enough skeletons to require more closets to put them all in. The clan’s main concern is a serial-killing case that, in the wake of their patriarch’s death, they learn he might have been involved in … as another relative still among them also may have been.
With Steven Spielberg’s Amblin firm co-producing “American Gothic” with CBS Television Studios, the show labels each episode with the name of a famous painting, a nod to the iconic Grant Wood work that shares the series’ title. Its acting ensemble includes Antony Starr (fresh off Cinemax’s recently ended “Banshee”), Virginia Madsen, Juliet Rylance (“The Knick”), Justin Chatwin (“Shameless”) and Megan Ketch.
Seen more recently on such shows as “Jane the Virgin” and “Under the Dome,” Ketch had a brief run as Danny Reagan’s (Donnie Wahlberg) detective partner in the third season of CBS’ “Blue Bloods.” She didn’t know of the earlier “American Gothic” series, but she tells Zap2it, “I find that people also mistake it for ‘American Horror Story’ or ‘American Crime.’ They’ll say, ‘I’ve heard of that show,’ and I say, ‘No! It’s in good company, but it’s not what you’re thinking of.’ ”
Obviously, Ketch hopes that will change as “American Gothic” (created by executive producer Corinne Brinkerhoff, with whom she worked previously on the CBS show “Reckless”) plays out over the summer. She explains her character, Tessa, has “a brand-new marriage to the character Brady Ross (Elliot Knight), who has just made Detective with the Boston Police. I play a public-school teacher, and we sort of represent the everyman.
“I look at Tessa as a bright, nurturing soul who is trying desperately to keep her family together. She doesn’t necessarily uphold the path of elite wealth, but of a public servant and a community builder. That consciously or subconsciously puts her at odds with her family, who are concerned about being the most powerful pillars of society that they can be.”
Ketch appreciates having the much-storied Boston as an “American Gothic” backdrop, though the show actually is being filmed in Toronto. “It’s such an iconic city,” she reflects, “so critically important to our history and what we like to identify with as Americans. It’s the epicenter of where we really put our stake in our own freedom, and I think that comes into play in an interesting way in this story, simply because the Hawthorne family is at the center of Boston wealth and Boston political identity. My older sister in the show is a city councilor and is running for mayor, and her race toward winning the election is a big part of what makes this show so interesting and fun.”
Though her “Blue Bloods” tenure — which still can be seen in syndicated repeats of the police drama — was short, Ketch says it was sweet. It came during the show’s Season of the Megans: Immediately after Ketch, Megan Boone had a similarly brief flight as another cop, prior to her stardom as the now-not-deceased Liz Keen on NBC’s “The Blacklist.” With both based in New York then, it wasn’t unusual for them to cross paths.
“The pilot season before that, or maybe the following pilot season, I saw her in many waiting rooms,” Ketch recalls with a laugh. “We were on the same track, it would seem, and I’ve loved her work on ‘The Blacklist.’ “