The new USA drama series Briarpatch, as its title promises, throws Rosario Dawson into quite the thorny situation in St. Boniface, Texas. As tough, capable Allegra Dill, she returns to her hometown to try to solve the murder of her sister, Felicity. The series, from producers Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot and Homecoming) and Andy Greenwald (Legion) is a thick and sweaty southern mystery with style points to spare. An outbreak from the local zoo in the days before Allegra arrives writes the show a blank check to punctuate every noir-laden moment with a stray exotic creature roaming free where it shouldn't be.
Briarpatch's best virtue is its cast, led by Dawson, an actress who's had a lead role in a good TV show coming to her for years now. Here's a look at who's in the Briarpatch cast, where you may know them from, and who they play on the show:
Since breaking through in the late '90s/early 2000s with movies like He Got Game and Josie and the Pussycats, Dawson has been an electric screen presence. She's worked with filmmakers like Spike Lee (He Got Game and 25th Hour), Oliver Stone (Alexander), Quentin Tarantino (Death Proof), and Danny Boyle (Trance). She stepped into the role of Mimi for the film version of Rent, and most recently the role of Claire Temple on Netflix's Marvel shows (Daredevil and Luke Cage). On Briarpatch, she plays Allegra Dill, a Senate subcommittee investigator who's drawn back to her hometown to get to the bottom of her sister's death.
Jay R. Ferguson's best-known role likely remains Stan Rizzo, advertising artist and Peggy Olson love interest in Mad Men. After that show ended, Ferguson appeared on ABC's short-lived The Real O'Neals and in the return season of Twin Peaks. He can currently be seen on The Conners. On Briarpatch, he plays Allegra's childhood pal Jake Spivey, who has since struck it rich through business interests legal and not-so-legal, and is living in gaudy, lavish digs that may include live zoo animals.
Kim Dickens was a reliable ensemble performer on TV for years, with roles on Lost, Sons of Anarchy, and especially Deadwood, before she landed the lead role on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead. She was also was dynamite as police investigator Rhonda Boney in the feature film Gone Girl. On Briarpatch, Dickens plays police chief Eve Raytek, who's leading the local investigation into Felicity Dill's death.
If you're familiar with Gathegi , it's probably from his too-brief role as Darwin in X-Men: First Class, or as Laurent in the Twilight series. Here, he plays St. Boniface local A.D. Singe, who appears to have information crucial for Allegra.
Brian Gerraghty's best known film roles have been in the Oscar-winning Best Picture The Hurt Locker, as Denzel Washington's co-pilot in Flight, and as an acid-tripping campaign staffer alongside Shia LaBeouf in Bobby. On TV, he's starred in NBC's Chicago P.D. In Briarpatch, he's playing a police officer who had been carrying on a secret relationship with Felicity Dill.
Aylwar's best-known role has been Dr. Anspaugh, a recurring big-wig surgeon on ER. On Briarpatch, he plays a muck-raking journalist, offering some help to Allegra while trying to dig up dirt of his own.
Cumming, a Tony Award-winner (for Cabaret) and an Emmy-nominee (for The Good Wife) has appeared in countless films and TV shows (including co-starring in Josie and the Pussycats with Rosario Dawson). He doesn't appear on Briarpatch for a few episodes, but his character promises to further complicate the myriad criminal undertakings happening around Allegra's investigation.
Briarpatch premieres Thursday February 6th at 10:00 PM on USA.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.