The men that surround Sepideh Moafi’s Agent Lauren McCauley underestimate her. It’s not because she is bad at her job or that she didn’t earn her spot but because, simply, she is a woman. Apple TV+’s Black Bird is predominantly male, but Lauren McCauley isn’t phased by them. In a performance of great observation and care, Moafi draws a character who cannot slip up and that quiet confidence is alluring and assured.
A lesser show would succumb to Lauren hooking up with another agent or make her focus on an attraction to Taron Egerton’s Jimmy Keane, but Black Bird‘s writing and direction are much too strong for that. There is a spark between Lauren and Jimmy, but it leads to more nuanced conversations about charm and how one can use the other to get what they want. Once Jimmy is transferred to another prison, Lauren is helpless. She visits him only once, and only then does she realize what she has asked him to do.
Since the events of Black Bird take place before anyone thought about Me Too, Moafi knew that Lauren had to calibrate her behavior around the men in her profession, but she also couldn’t call attention to it. Lauren strongly shuts men down or swerves around their advances in order to get her job done. Imagine how many crimes have gone unsolved because the detectives in charge lack Lauren’s dedication or focus.
Moafi’s performance is well-researched and rendered with respect. It’s a sympathetic turn whose nuances linger.
Black Bird is streaming now on Apple TV+.