• Network: USA
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 20, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2
Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: Diane Werts
    Jan 19, 2011
    83
    Future episodes aren't as snappy or scenic. But Shahi & Show deliver win-win, anyway.
  2. Reviewed by: Aaron Barnhart
    Jan 20, 2011
    80
    It's a bright, fun little show, adhering to the formula that has worked for so many other light dramas on USA: tight writing, a little romance, whirly movement.
  3. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    Jan 20, 2011
    80
    The Fairly Legal writers manage to make this intellectually formidable centerpiece lively and intriguing and Shahi, whose timing is just as exceptional as her looks, makes it funny and sexy. The rest of the cast give us characters who may have started off stock but quickly become multilayered and, like the show itself, capable of all manner of surprises.
  4. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jan 19, 2011
    75
    It's a well-constructed piece of popular entertainment from a dependable provider of the same, with an easy-to-like star and an easy-to-grasp premise.
  5. Reviewed by: Paige Wiser
    Jan 13, 2011
    75
    If you've hit your David E. Kelley lawyer limit, Fairly Legal might be the dramatic departure you need. Give peace a chance.
  6. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jan 20, 2011
    70
    It's Shahi, whose Kate may be grumpy but who somehow gets to smile more in one episode than she might have in an entire season of "Life," who lights up the screen and makes Legal a keeper.
  7. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 20, 2011
    67
    [Sarah Shahi] plays this lead role with assurance and aplomb, elevating the entire enterprise in the process.
  8. Reviewed by: Tim Stack
    Jan 18, 2011
    67
    The by-the-numbers legal dramedy is given a needed boost by its incredibly likable star Sarah Shahi (Life).
  9. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Jan 19, 2011
    60
    USA's Fairly Legal is fairly good. OK, I hate myself for that. But the phrase "fairly good" just seems so right in this case.
  10. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jan 17, 2011
    60
    The 90-minute Fairly Legal pilot, written by series creator Michael Sardo, moves at breakneck speed and fairly effortlessly welcomes viewers into spastic Kate's world. It's not a bad place to visit--but I probably won't be checking in on her on a regular basis.
  11. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 20, 2011
    50
    Legal is fairly banal, and its focus is often as fuzzy and vague as its by-the-numbers title. Thankfully, Shahi has more than enough personal charm and sex appeal to keep this vehicle afloat until it finds its own voice.
  12. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 19, 2011
    50
    All told, Fairly Legal feels as if the network--despite riding a nifty string of successes by placing a light spin on familiar genres--has dipped into this particular shallow pool once too often.
  13. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Jan 19, 2011
    50
    Fairly Legal is adequately entertaining, thanks in large part to Shahi, an engaging actress who looks like Anne Hathaway.
  14. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 20, 2011
    42
    One problem with the show is intrinsic to its premise. Though mediation is valuable in the real world, it doesn't lead itself to interesting stories in a medium that chugs on conflict, victims and victors.
  15. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Jan 20, 2011
    40
    Shahi makes a valiant attempt to make these stories entertaining, and the fact that she succeeds part of the time is a testament to her energy and skills. But the progression of the plots and the resolutions are so pat that there's almost no suspense in these stories.
  16. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 20, 2011
    40
    Over the three episodes USA sent out for review (the pilot, a mid-season episode, and the first season finale), what Kate does only occasionally matches up with the judge's speech, and none of her cases are interesting enough to distinguish Fairly Legal from the abundance of law shows on TV.
  17. Reviewed by: Michael Abernethy
    Jan 20, 2011
    40
    In another series on another network, Kate might have stood out. Stuck on USA, though, she's an extraordinary woman on an ordinary show.
  18. Reviewed by: Ginia Bellafante
    Jan 17, 2011
    40
    Like the relationship the series feels unfinished, not altogether there in its understanding of itself.
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 2 out of 5
  1. Mar 22, 2011
    2
    It's important to note that if you have any involvement in the mediation community you're likely to get upset by this show. Many of the stunts that Kate Reed (Sara Shahi) pulls are very questionable in their legality, and pretty much all of them are completely inappropriate for someone acting as a mediator. I realize the same thing could be said about any number of other shows out there, but those shows typically thrive off of a likable character, compelling plot line, or by embracing their own unbelievable nature and going for the comedic approach. Fairly Legal doesn't have any of these. It's not funny enough to be a comedy, and it's certainly not serious enough to draw you in.

    Perhaps if Shahi's character was more likable it would be one thing, but after about five minutes her personality began to grate on me. She states multiple times how great a mediator she is, but when she actually gets down to it she looks like someone just explained the concept to her five minutes before. It's not all Shahi's fault though, the writing just falls flat and seems to go for contrived drama rather than anything believable.

    I understand that portraying a mediator who follows the rules all the time may not bring in the highest ratings, but Kate Reed's take on mediation is like watching a three year old try to bargain with her mother to stay up later. Splice that in with shots of Reed looking confused about why her far from impartial methods aren't working, and that pretty much sums up the legal portion of the show.

    I'm giving the show two points for at the very least advocating mediation over litigation, but it utterly fails in it's attempt to communicate the process. There's nothing to learn from an educational standpoint. In the end it's just another show about a woman sleeping around with her ex and acting **** about a job that she's not even that good at anyways. The fact that they bring up the word "mediation" every now and then is just used as a failed gimmick to try and separate this from all the other bad legal drama clones.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 22, 2011
    0
    "the law, the law, the law" has got to be the most annoying character tagline ever chosen for series advertising, but that is also USA's not so clever way of reminding me that I didn't like this show, and why...

    The series premiere was both the high point and the start of the end for this sow's ear which has managed to fail miserably to be sewn into anything remotely resembling a silk purse. It's sole remaining goal is likely to be reaching the bottom. With that in mind, here's my tagline for the future of this show: "Dive, dive, dive!" (the best ratings are at the bottom....really, they are...would I lie to you, USA?)
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 25, 2011
    10
    Thank heavens no more legal and CSI shows - a different type of entertainment taking "talking about the problem" to a solution. How about that - get rid of all attorneys and hire mediators what a thought! Find it entertaining and love the cast they put together - works for me - I won't miss an episode. Full Review »