If you’ve been missing your weekly drama fix since the season finales of your favorite shows, American Gothic is here to fill that void. The new CBS thriller, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET, follows the story of a Boston family who discovers that they may have a very close connection to a past murder spree. When the case is reopened, plenty of surprises await the prominent Hawthornes—and there’s never a dull moment.
“It’s a great family drama and a compelling murder mystery all rolled into one,” the show’s star, Elliot Knight, tells InStyle. He plays Brady Ross, a newly-promoted detective who’s married to Tessa, the youngest daughter of the Hawthorne family. And from the very start, investigating a case that involves his wife’s relatives proves to be a challenge. “Brady is very much in love with his new wife, Tessa,” says Knight. “They’re happy together and life is going according to plan—up until the point at which we join them at the start of the series.”
As things go awry, the newlyweds’ relationship is put to the test. “We’re thrown into chaos whenever there’s a new twist or turn, which is pretty heartbreaking to watch at times,” said Knight. “There are a lot of ups and downs—it’s the biggest roller coaster ride, emotionally and mentally. But it’s thrilling and exhausting at the same time.”
While Brady’s relationship with Tessa is likely the most relatable (they “represent the everyday working-class man and woman who work so hard for what they want and have to struggle,” according to Knight), the couple still maintains a positive outlook. “They’re very idealist, so it’s interesting to see what happens to them when they’re thrown into a situation that is much less than ideal,” he says, adding that the situation is especially complicated for Brady. “He’s very much a good cop who wants to do a good job and works hard for a cause that he believes in.”
But when the Hawthorne family’s secrets start to emerge, Brady has a hard time serving both his community and his family. “His loyalty is his biggest strength, and so is his passion for the cause he believes in: to be a good cop, work hard, and do good by his moral code,” says Knight. “But at the same time, his loyalty to his wife and family is also strong. And when those two things are put into direct conflict with each other, that’s what’s really interesting. So Brady’s biggest struggle throughout the series is the constant facing-up of his love for his job with his love for his wife and family.”
No matter where his devotion lies, Brady is front and center as the drama goes down. “As in any sort of murder mystery, the detective is the one you follow to figure out what’s happening,” said Knight. “There’s always something bizarre going on, and whether he’s there in a family capacity or as a cop, he’s always on one side of the crazy.” And his role is pivotal. “Brady very much represents the eyes through which the audience sees the story,” said Knight. “So whenever he discovers new information, that’s when viewers discover new information. He’s really the storyteller and he guides you through, in a way.”
As viewers navigate the story with the help of Knight’s character, they may be reminded of another series in which the actor recently starred: ABC’s hit, How to Get Away with Murder. The shows are “definitely” similar in some ways, according to Knight. “Murder has a great suspense to it, with mystery and twists and turns that you never saw coming—and this show does exactly the same thing in its own way,” he says. “There are constant surprises that make you gasp and hold your breath, just like Murder.”
Knight is hopeful that American Gothic is just as successful. “I trust that this show will strike a chord with people in the same way,” he says. Catch the show’s premiere later today, June 22, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.