Quantico flashes back and forth between two timelines, one in which a new class of recruits arrives at the Federal Bureau of Investigation training centre, and a second one, where one of their number is accused of a bombing that has just levelled New York's Grand Central Station.

It's as if a Shonda Rhimes series hooked up with a paranoid 70s political thriller.

It's no surprise that Quantico, like a lot of shows from America's ABC network, is stocked with a cast that's diverse in just about every way - though they all share the same shocking good looks.

The new FBI class includes Simon Asher (Tate Ellington), a Zionist who spent time in Gaza and a gay man with relatively little sexual or romantic experience; Shelby Wyatt (UnREAL star Johanna Braddy), a blonde with an internal steel disguised by a feminine exterior; Nimah Amin (Yasmine Al Massri), an observant Muslim recruit with a secret; and Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin), the sort of hyper-competent straight white guy who often shows up in Rhimes' shows.


In a particular nod to the increasingly powerful international market for American entertainment, Bollywood megastar Priyanka Chopra (see interview page 7) is series lead Alex Parrish, who is eager to forge a reputation independent of her agent father's, and who becomes a suspect in the terror attack that occurs a year after the class begins its training.

It might seem Quantico is employing that diversity to "present the world as we want it to be, not as it necessarily is", says series creator Joshua Safran.

"This show is about the struggle to achieve that. Their politics and their racial makeup and their religious backgrounds are very important to their characterisations and who they are ... I really am interested in looking at how every culture handles stress and in particular, how people from all these different backgrounds find their place in the FBI."

Quantico's title refers to the FBI training academy where Alex is among a class of fresh-faced new recruits.
Quantico's title refers to the FBI training academy where Alex is among a class of fresh-faced new recruits.

For Alex and Nimah, the tension is about race and religion. Both women are motivated to prove they are "as much of an American as anyone else", Safran said.

We also meet a Mormon member of the recruit class who explains why the FBI likes Mormon officers: "Mormons respect authority, don't drink or take drugs, they spend time in foreign countries, and speak several languages."

That's all good in theory, but this character has internal conflicts that manifest themselves in shocking ways. The diversity of the cast isn't the only way in which Quantico is a political show.

"When I pitched, I said, 'It's a sexy soap,' because you have to tick that box, but it's also a character study and a political thriller," Safran says. "I love Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, The Manchurian Candidate.

These things won't necessarily show up in the show, but that's what my first love is. It was a way to do a political thriller instead of a military show. It is not 24 - we talk about that a lot."

When: Tuesday, 8.45pm
Where: TV2
What: FBI boot camp conspiracy thriller

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