September 03, 2010

Gregory Cruz in Saving Grace

I'm watching the first season of Saving Grace, the TNT cop series starring Holly Hunter. Here's the story:

Saving Grace (TV series)Saving Grace is an American television crime drama series which premiered on TNT on July 23, 2007, and ran until June 21, 2010. The show stars Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter in her first television series, as well as Leon Rippy, Kenny Johnson, Laura San Giacomo, Bailey Chase, Bokeem Woodbine, and Yaani King. It is set in Oklahoma City—including numerous shots of local buildings and landmarks (such as the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the downtown skyline)—while much of the show was filmed in Vancouver and Los Angeles.


The plot focuses on Grace Hanadarko (Hunter), a smoking, heavy drinking, and promiscuous Oklahoma City detective. In the series opener, Grace meets up with her "last-chance" angel, when after a night of drinking she runs down and kills a pedestrian with her Porsche. In desperation she calls out for God's help, and a scruffy, tobacco-spitting man who calls himself Earl (Rippy) appears. Unfolding his wings to reveal his divine origins, Earl tells her that she's headed for hell, and asks if she's ready to turn her life over to God.
Since Saving Grace is set in Oklahoma City, one might expect a Native presence. And there is one in the character of Bobby Stillwater, the fourth detective on Grace's team. Played by Gregory Cruz, Stillwater basically does chores or fills in information when the other detectives are busy. He isn't even listed as a cast member; rather, the show announces "Guest-starring Gregory Cruz" after the opening credits.

In short, he's a token Indian, at least in Season 1. But at least he's there. And he isn't spouting Native clichés like a walking stereotype. He's just a normal cop doing his job.

Stillwater's tribe?

Stillwater hasn't stated any tribal affiliation so far. With his name and location, "Cherokee" would be the best guess.

In the seventh episode, Yeehaw, Geepaw, he mentions his Indian half and his Mexican half. This is consistent with Cruz's background, which one person described as "1/8 Apache (Chiricahua, I believe), and 3/4 Mexican (Mexican Native American)."

I guess he's supposed to represent all the minorities not covered by the white officers and the black captain--a common ethnic setup for cop shows. Heaven forbid that an Indian could be one of the top three or four characters, not to mention the star.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Below:  Gregory Cruz, Holly Hunter, and Bailey Chase.

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