If you have a TV and you spend any amount of time watching live programming on said TV, or if you’re psychotic and don’t fast forward through commercials on your DVR, then there is a better than bad chance that you know who Carly Foulkes is. You probably wouldn’t know her name before today, but you have undoubtedly seen her for the past year or so as the spokeswoman for T-Mobile’s 4G phones. You know her by the vaguely Apple-y nature of the ads and, if you’re like me, you probably know her best by the way she coyly wears those pink and white dresses, the way she stands in those pink heels, revealing that her lovely legs could also kick your ass if she found out you Googled her using less-than-innocent terminology…
Well, it looks like Foulkes is trading in her cotton dresses for spandex skirts. Brian Michael Bendis (co-creator/writer of the Powers comic) revealed on the Sirius XM radio show, Geektime, that the “super cute T-Mobile girl” has been cast in the FX adaptation of his cops-meets-capes series. Apparently, this happened a while ago, but no one was paying attention at the time — or, no one cared until last week’s casting reports. Foulkes will be playing Retro Girl in the upcoming TV version, and she joins such acting luminaries as The Lost Boys’ Jason Patric (as Christian Walker, meh), Hot Fuzz’s Lucy Punch (as Deena Pilgrim, eh?), and Charles S. “Roc” Dutton (as Captain Cross… yeah, okay). Which means that even if before today, when you only knew her as the “T-Mobile Girl,” she might ironically have been the most currently well-known of the show’s cast. Of course, if you’ve read the first graphic novel, that’s a bit of a mixed Mylar bag.
Though the role of Retro Girl is very important to the Powers mythology, the character almost solely appears in flashbacks and as such, if they stick to the script, the actress probably won’t have a large role beyond the first arc. (That adds some mystery of its own: will the TV series do an arc/case per season to mimic the graphic novels, or will it follow the more successful formula of the procedural? I think the nature of Powers can do both, but the case-a-season narrative would be more faithful, more engaging, and wouldn’t enable twitchy fans — like me — to bemoan changes from the source material.) Regardless, as originally conceived, Retro Girl holds a decent amount of emotional baggage that is mostly kept hidden under the surface. Until, akin to the rest of the Powers universe, Bendis takes the opportunity to wallop the reader with some unexpected, context altering pathos. It will be interesting to see if the relatively untested actress has the chops to bring her character to life from the printed page, with very little time to do so. Or, if she’s only a model.
I, for one, am of the mind that Foulkes can probably handle Retro Girl just fine, assuming she can act a bit older than her 23 years. If those commercials (one of which just happens to be on as I proofread this sentence) are anything to go by, she is at least as capable an actress as Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not to mention she is a helluvalot more charming in those 30-second spots than some performers are in their entire careers. As silly as it probably is to admit, seeing how the T-Mobile Girl acquits herself to real TV and Retro Girl will now be a big reason why I will inevitably tune in. Despite my unabashed fandemonium for the books, nothing else, besides the source and its premise, energizes me about this adaptation. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a pretty face, even when she just wants to sell me things I don’t need. At least as far as a boredom-induced Google image search goes, anyway. I’m too poor to buy everything the ad wizards come up with.
Rob Payne writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force and co-hosts the internet radio show/podcast We’re Not Fanboys. He believes that playing Retro Girl will, at the very least, add a bevy of interesting new images to Carly Foulkes’ Google library, which, yes, does contain a few mildly NSFW pictures, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. She does manage to keep her shame intact, which is either good news or bad news, depending on what sort of sexual deviant you happen to be.