A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this gritty cop show is dark, violent, and very realistic. Unlike some police series, which manufacture drama with over-the-top crimes and romantic intrigue between the main characters, this series focuses on "regular" crimes and the honest anguish of the victims and their loved ones, as well as the officers' often troubled home lives. The violent scenes, while not generally bloody, have real consequences. There's also plenty of swearing (not always bleeped) and a good bit of drinking, as well as some raunchy talk (but no sensitive body parts are shown).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
On his first day on the job, rookie cop Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) investigates the random drive-by shooting of a young boy; storms into a suspect's home, gun in hand; and, after seeing a fellow officer get shot to death, vomits all over the street. Just another day for the Los Angeles Police Department in SOUTHLAND, a gritty, violent, and very realistic look at a patrolman's life. Sherman's mentor is John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), a jaded veteran who already knows that working the streets is exciting and dangerous -- and tries to teach his new partner that being part of the LAPD is "a front row seat at the greatest show on Earth."
Is it any good?
Being a cop is a tough and thankless job, and Southland doesn't sugar-coat it. The experienced officers are cynical, often bitter, after seeing just about everything during their years on the streets, and Sherman is getting a crash course in reality right from the start. Cooper and his peers have developed a hardened exterior because it's the only way to get by on the force, and Sherman stands out for his innocence. Clearly, he'll need to shed that soft shell, and fast.
John Wells, who also brought ER to the small screen, created Southland. That series also examined the personal crises of everyday life. But while ER tipped toward the melodramatic, the crimes here are the mundane but heartbreaking stuff of the big city: sudden senseless killings, missing kids, random violence. There are no criminal masterminds, no complex plots, no exciting heists. By focusing on the incidents' everyday nature, the show makes the honest reactions of victims and their loved ones seem more dramatic -- more human -- than the most "exciting" gunfights and daring rescues on other police series. Realism, it seems, is more interesting than any fictional drama.
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Our editors recommend
For kids who love action and drama
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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