"Public Morals" New York Series Screening
Credit: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

Public Morals premieres tonight on TNT, and no one can sum up why you’ll be hooked on the series better than its star, Katrina Bowden. We recently caught up with the actress, who plays high-end call girl on the show, and she gave us three reasons to watch the new cop drama. “It’s beautiful to look at, it’s exciting, and people die,” Bowden told InStyle. Combine those solid selling points with a cast that includes Ed Burns—who also created, produces, and directs the series—and you’ve found your new must-watch.

Set in 1960s New York City, the series about cops with questionable morals takes a darker approach when portraying the often-glamorized time period. “It’s very gritty,” said Bowden, whose character Stacy “Fortune” Potter is arrested for prostitution in tonight’s episode. “It’s a crime drama, a gangster show, and a cop show all rolled into one.” That means you can expect to see “a lot of the underbelly of New York in that era,” said Bowden, who added that at its core, the show “is just about people trying to balance work and family life.”

For Fortune, that’s tricky. You see, the lady of the night is actually a schoolteacher by day. “She’s not your typical prostitute,” said Bowden. “She’s mysterious and sweet at the same time, so she has this way of making you think you like her—even though you don’t really trust her.” But deep down, Bowden believes that her character is good. “Obviously some things went wrong in her life to get her where she is now,” she said. “To be a schoolteacher, you have to be patient and kind, but also tough and smart. So she isn’t some totally raunchy girl—there’s a softer side to her toughness, even with her clients.”

Katrina Bowden on Public Morals - Embed 2
Credit: Courtesy

But Fortune has goals bigger than her work. “She does want a relationship, and she does want normalcy in her life, but she works in a field where she can’t really have that,” explained Bowden. Still, that doesn’t mean Fortune won’t try. “The relationship that she forms with Bullman [played by Michael Rapaport] gets really interesting. You start to realize that at the end of the day, she’s just a girl who wants the same things that most girls want.”

Unfortunately for Fortune, she suffers some major setbacks. In the first episode, she’s attacked by one of her clients. The sensitive matter had to be handled delicately—and the producers wanted the bruising on Bowden’s face to look realistic. “We had to send a picture to Steven Spielberg’s team to make sure that he approved the way that my face looked,” said Bowden. “He was very specific about what he wanted, so we had to get back into the makeup chair, add more, and then change the prosthetics.”

Spielberg wasn’t the only one who wanted to get Fortune’s look just right. “Our hair department bought old hot roller sets from the '60s on eBay, so I would have a hot roller set in my hair for about 40 minutes while I got my makeup done,” said Bowden. “There was so much hairspray and so much teasing—but it was fun.”

Katrina Bowden on Public Morals
Credit: Courtesy

Other than big hair, you can expect to see Fortune rocking one major wardrobe staple throughout this season. “When she’s going to see clients, she wears a lot of sequined cocktail dresses that are very sexy yet sophisticated,” said Bowden. And that’s the most skin that you’ll see the star showing onscreen—at least for now. “There are some scenes that are a bit more seductive, where she takes charge a little more, but nothing is too over-the-top. Everything else goes on behind closed doors.”

Except for the crime aspect of the show, that is. Tonight’s episode ends with a big shocker in broad daylight—and we’ll find out who’s behind the bold act next week. “You discover more about what happened in the second episode, and we establish a bad guy who’s actually a really cool character,” said Bowden. “We go into the inner workings of Irish gangs and the cops, and you find out about a rivalry between two families and how it affects everything after this big murder happens.”

So don’t get too attached to any one character. “There are a lot of people who get killed off,” said Bowden. “It’s really fast-paced, and there are a lot of big shockers to keep the plot as exciting as possible.”

Check out the trailer for Public Morals below. The show airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT, and the first four episodes will be available on-demand through VOD and at starting today.