It’d be easy to compare Marcie Diggs—the main character of the sleeper hit, Halifax-set CBC legal drama Diggstown, returning for its third season October 6—to Annalise Keating of How To Get Away With Murder, since both are powerhouses in the courtroom. It’d be easy to cast her akin to Scandal’s Olivia Pope, thanks to the snappy suits. But Vinessa Antoine, the actor who brings Diggs to riveting, unvarnished life, says that just because these contrasts are easy doesn’t make them correct: “One of the things that I was so attracted to with this character was she seemed very kind to me—which was something that I wasn't really used to seeing a lot,” she says, speaking by Zoom with The Coast. “When we talk about Black women and how they are depicted...I found them to be extremely strong, and perhaps even sexy or tough and intelligent, but I found that Marcie—maybe because of her Canadian side—always felt like she was coming from a place of kindness first. And that was something that I was interested in bringing to television.”
Just as Diggs is not your typical high-powered protagonist, neither is her namesake show. Diggstown sets itself apart from other legal dramas by not hinging on tidy answers or closing courtroom arguments that could be confused for campaign trail stump speeches.
Instead, the series delves into the messy and the uncomfortable, exploring systemic racism (like in the subplot surrounding a pregnant Indigenous woman’s fight to keep her unborn child) and casual classism (like the series debut, where a truck driver has the cops called on him because he’s too loud at a south end baseball game). With its season three debut this month on both CBC and its free streaming app CBC Gem (and on BET’s streaming app BET+ and FOX, showing a strong support for the show south of the border), fans can expect a doubling-down on this approach: “It continues to tell the narrative and drive home the truth of what's been going on in Canada, particularly this season,” Antione explains, adding that the feeling Halifax itself is an extra character in the series is a deliberate choice: “It's different when you can be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that's where I go shopping, that's where I grew up, that's where I take my dog to the park, they literally are showing my house right there. These are stories that are actually happening!’ And you can Google them and be like, ‘Whoa, this is real’.”