NCIS: Hawai'i Star Talks The Importance Of Queer Characters And Representation In The Franchise

Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler in NCIS: Hawai'i
(Image credit: CBS)

The wait for NCIS: Hawai’i to return to CBS for Season 2 is finally almost over, and the newest show in the franchise is coming back as part of a crossover event with NCIS. Now is a good time to revisit the events of the first season and how they set up what comes next, for better or worse. According to Tori Anderson, who plays Kate Whistler, her character is in for more “better” than “worse” in her relationship with Lucy. The actress spoke with CinemaBlend about the importance of queer characters like Kate and Lucy, as well as other representation. 

Season 1 of NCIS: Hawai’i arrived on DVD on September 6, so there is time before the September 19 Season 2 premiere to revisit the first batch of episodes (as well as the special features). Tori Anderson shared her thoughts on the show not only featuring a queer relationship between Kate and Lucy, but making it the biggest relationship of the series, saying: 

I think it's so exciting. I know that's what they wanted to do from the conception of the show, but I think it's so important that you see queer characters taking up the same space and airtime as heterosexual relationships. And this really is the one relationship that you see from the first episode until the very end, and that you'll see through Season 2 as well. So I think it's really exciting and it's essential to represent the world as we see it. And everyone should see themselves represented on screen and the success of it speaks to why diversity is so important, and why continuing to showcase these storylines is so prevalent.

The course of true love didn’t exactly run smooth for Kate and Lucy throughout Season 1, but they were clearly set up as a couple to root for. Kate sealed the deal in the Season 1 finale with a sweet (and slightly silly) rendition of “Make You Feel My Love” to Lucy that showed her softer, less career-driven side. Her approach was more literal than Ernie intended when he made some suggestions for reaching out to Lucy, but it worked! While there was romance elsewhere in Season 1, Kate and Lucy were set up as the most important. Fans can certainly be happy to see that the relationship will continue through Season 2 as well.

NCIS: Hawai’i also set itself apart when it comes to representation in other ways. When Vanessa Lachey was cast to play the lead agent, the show made history as the first one in the NCIS franchise with an actress top-billed as the main character. After Gibbs on the original, Pride on NCIS: New Orleans, and Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles, Jane Tennant at the forefront of the Hawai’i-set action was something new. When I asked Tori Anderson if she had the sense of making history with Lachey in the lead while filming Season 1, the actress revealed:

Oh, absolutely. Not only a female-led show, but she's a woman of color, so I think it was monumental. It was really exciting, and that was definitely the appeal when I was auditioning for it. I was so excited about that, and I was really excited that there was a queer NCIS agent as one of the leads on the show as well. So I think it was monumental, and I think it's very successful. Vanessa brings such a different lead to the show, and how she approaches the character of Jane with kindness, with heart, being a mother and how a woman would approach it versus a man. And I think she just does a remarkable job.

Vanessa Lachey herself has also opened up about what it means to her to bring representation to primetime as a woman of color, including how it made her daughter look at her like she was Wonder Woman. There’s certainly no denying that – as Tori Anderson noted – NCIS: Hawai’i is already very successful after just one season. CBS ordered more episodes of the show after only three had aired, then gave the order for a full season just days later. The renewal didn’t exactly come as a surprise! 

Season 2 will arrive on CBS as the second half of a crossover event on Monday, September 19. NCIS will begin the two-parter at 9 p.m. ET, with NCIS: Hawai’i finishing things off at 10 p.m. ET, and some early images already reveal the stars from the two shows mixing it up. 

In the meantime, you can check out the full first season available on DVD, with more than 45 minutes of special features to go with all 22 episodes. The set also includes both halves of the first NCIS crossover that aired in March, along with a gag reel and some deleted scenes. The DVD set is available now, and is worth checking out while waiting for the franchise to return in the 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).