In “Rebel” Katey Sagal plays an activist who is reminiscent of Erin Brockovich. The series is brisk and more amusing than the Julia Roberts film. The women: Great!
This is called an appearance: in a skin-tight dress, with flowing hair and sunglasses, Annie Bello crashes a charity party, smuggles her daughter in with a group of demonstrators, defiles the host and in the end allows herself to be arrested without resistance after the paparazzi took a few compromising photos of her have made. She is only happy that they are even printed in the newspaper the next day. Because Annie needs all the publicity for her fight against the medical technology company, which makes false promises to sick people (and investors willing to pay) and nasty business with harmful heart valves. She may not be a lawyer, but she knows how to give people their rights.
The fact that everyone calls her “Rebel” has not only to do with her fearless demeanor (she wins every who-blinks-first competition, even if she is sitting across from a well-known violent criminal). She does not obey the rules, is uncomfortable and knows how to wrap men around her finger or intimidate them as needed. Resistance is futile – even her exes and her three children, who are as different as they are competent, know that, whom she harnesses for the just cause.
Julia Roberts footsteps? Not at all!
The series “Rebel” (to be seen on Disney +) was inspired by the story of the fearless Erin Brockovich – the paralegal who helped uncover an environmental scandal over the drinking water pollution in Hinkley, California in the mid-1990s. Since Julia Roberts won an Oscar with the lead role in Steven Soderbergh’s judicial drama “Erin Brockovich” (2000), the environmental activist has also gained international renown. But “Rebel” and her great actress Katey Sagal (who has already embodied characters as diverse as Mama Peggy from “A Terrible Nice Family” or Gemma from the motorcycle gang in “Sons of Anarchy”) deliberately do not follow in Robert’s footsteps. The series doesn’t take itself that seriously, the story is quicker and, above all, amusingly told. Rebel is not a young mother in financial distress, but a stacked, loud person who has her life, her (ex) husbands (including John Corbett from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) and her adult children firmly under control. “Let’s finish the bastards!” Demands Rebel – and everyone follows.
The series was conceived by Krista Vernoff, now 60-year-old Erin Brockovich is on board as a co-producer. One can assume that she had a say in the cast. Sagal is a stroke of luck. The 67-year-old doesn’t just look great, she sums up the character of her resolute and somewhat chaotic protagonist in a convincing and funny way – regardless of whether she is reading the riot act or putting honey around someone’s mouth. Both with pleasure. What if it goes wrong? Get up, straighten your boobs, move on!
In Hollywood, actresses complain that they are no longer cast over 40. What a pity! Sagal, for example, does not have to shy away from the comparison with Julia Roberts, who is not even half as old and also grandiose in the Soderbergh film adaptation – she brings verve, a strong character and life experience and shows what a waste it is on mature actresses to renounce.
(“Die Presse”, print edition, May 31, 2021)