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Maura Johnston

ABC picks up Boston cop show ‘Broad Squad’

In 1972, Mayor Kevin White spoke at the graduation of 12 women from the Boston Police Academy, the first time female officers were given guns and uniforms.Sam Masotta/Globe Staff/File/Globe file photo Sam Masotta

The streets of Boston will appear on ABC next fall.

The network announced last week that it would air a pilot of “The Broad Squad,” a throwback show loosely based on the lives of the Boston Police Department’s first female patrol officers.

Dorchester-born actress and writer Alexandra Lydon (“24”), who comes from a family of police officers, developed the idea and will serve as a producer. Inspiration came from the real-life stories of Lydon’s family members and family friends who were among the first women to patrol the city’s streets during the 1970s. Lydon dived into the topic further, and the idea for “The Broad Squad” emerged from her research. (The name comes from a descriptive moniker used by the local press.)


Bess Wohl, an alum of Harvard and the Yale School of Drama whose musical about pornography, “Pretty Filthy,” premiered in New York on Saturday, will write the script and serve as executive producer alongside Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl”) of Fake Empire, Len Goldstein, and Aaron Kaplan. In 2013, Wohl’s play “American Hero,” which focused on the lives of three “sandwich artists,” premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The show’s staff is planning to bring production to Boston this spring.

“We’re definitely going to shoot the pilot in Boston — that’s our plan,” Kaplan told the Globe. “Ideally we’d shoot the series there.” Kaplan also produces the ABC Family drama “Chasing Life”; that show’s pilot was shot in Boston and occasionally has scenes shot here as well.

The Boston Police Academy began admitting women in 1972, although the BPD had female officers in its ranks as early as 1921. The policewomen who served in the earliest days did not have powers of arrest, and worked with women and children; 1972 marked the year that female officers were given guns and uniforms, which included derby hats.


As the Globe noted in 2011, the attitude toward those policewomen seems a bit retrograde now. “The newest uniformed members of the Boston Police Department are in better shape than any of their predecessors — and how!’’ one dispatch from the era went. “The girls may not be able to run as fast as fellow officers, but they have much better legs.’’

Kaplan stressed that the tone of “The Broad Squad” would be very different.

“This is going to be a really wonderful, authentic character piece,” said Kaplan. “This is not ‘Charlie’s Angels’; this is not a joke. This is a real drama using Boston as a character, and we’re casting it with excellent actors who reflect the circumstances of law enforcement, women, and crime. We’re hoping to be a wonderful, character-based show.”

“The Broad Squad” is still casting, and no air date has been announced yet.

Maura Johnston can be reached at maura.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @maura.