Review: Jesse L. Martin Charm’s Isn’t Enough to Save The Irrational From Procedural Predictability, By Stephanie Holland, Posted October 9th 2023

If you’ve ever seen a “brilliant civilian helps the police solve crimes” procedural, The Irrational will be very familiar to you. And by very familiar, I mean you’ve absolutely seen this series before. From the cases, to the genius surrounded by exasperated co-workers, to the leads with romantic tension, there’s not a lot of originality happening here. Seriously, if you’ve ever binged Law & Order, NCIS or CSI, you won’t be surprised by anything in this show. However, its one saving grace is the talented cast led by veteran TV leading man Jesse L. Martin. He’s able to keep things somewhat interesting while you’re waiting for the characters to solve an extremely obvious crime.


Martin stars as Alec Mercer, a behavioral scientist who uses his unique insight into the human psyche to help figure out major cases. He is joined by Maahra Hill as Marisa, the FBI agent he often works with, who also happens to be his ex-wife. There’s clearly still a spark between them, but Marisa is reluctant to once again play second fiddle to Alec’s work. I’m really hoping they don’t turn this into a “will they, won’t they” situation. Frankly, there’s way too many of those on TV already. The absolute highlight of the cast is Travina Springer as Alec’s sister Kylie. As much as she loves her brother, she is often exasperated by his little psychological experiments. Their hilarious sibling banter is the most natural, authentic element of the series, adding much needed levity to serious moments.

After watching the first three episodes, it’s clear that The Irrational isn’t a bad show, but it’s also not good. Its biggest issue is that it’s forgettable. It needs to stand out from the procedural crowd, and sadly, Martin’s enduring charm isn’t enough to accomplish this.

While the cases play heavily into Alec’s unique skill set, they aren’t necessarily new. I know I watch more TV than the average person, but if I can figure out who the killer is within the first three minutes of the episode, that’s not a healthy sign for the series. Alec is also on a quest to solve a personal mystery, which is a better, more captivating story than any of the cases of the week. Hopefully, it gets a stronger focus as Season 1 progresses.

What’s so frustrating is that I love procedurals and really enjoy Martin’s work, so I was looking forward to this one. If it were just a terrible series with no redeeming qualities, that would be easier to accept. However, The Irrational is a cake that was taken out of the oven too soon. You can feel the potential that something delicious was right there, but now you’re left with an underbaked mess that’s only edible around the edges.
The Irrational airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC, and is available on Peacock the next day and streams on HULU.

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