• Network: USA
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 20, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 27
  2. Negative: 5 out of 27

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  1. Mar 22, 2011
    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.
  2. Jan 26, 2011
    It's probably not a good sign when the best part of a show is the transportation. For me, the star's regular ferry rides were the high points of the show; San Francisco from the water is magical, especially at night. Shooting cityscapes seems to be something the USA network does really well, New York is practically a character in "White Collar." (Note: yes, I know "Fairly Legal" is mostly shot in Vancouver; what isn't these days?) Okay, onto more substantial matters. Our protagonist is a paradox: a woman without an ounce of natural diplomacy who is . . . wait for it . . . a professional mediator. A double shot of high concept with an irony chaser! And there's more: she has walked away from a dazzling legal career, but she can't let go of the lawyer men in her life, sleeping with her ex-husband, calling her dead father's voice mail, serving wine to his cremains. And, bless her heart, Sarah Shahi almost pulls off this human oxymoron, except that she also has to manifest such astonishing powers of persuasion that she can defuse an armed robbery before she even tastes her morning coffee! Yes, I know, TV characters all have magnificent skill sets, but there are limits to the quantity of disbelief I can suspend without hard drugs or a sledgehammer blow to the head, and FL exceeded them within the first 10 minutes of the pilot. Were the show to give the protagonist a bit more nuance and concentrate on cases that challenge her, it could be good, and I'll be among the first to cheer if that happens. (They can start by losing the cellphone-based Dorothy-in-Oz conceit.) Until then, I'll watch for the ferry rides. A little while, anyway. Expand
  3. Jan 25, 2011
    I commend USA for spitting out shows of new taste. Their lineup travels across the country hitting almost every demographic. Santa Barbara, Albuquerque, Miami, New York City, The Hampton's, D.C., and now San Francisco. It was inevitable, especially with the conclusion of MONK. Like most of the shows on USA, I feel as if Fairly Legal will soon have a cult following. I love the lineup USA has, and if you are anything like me you do not mind the lighthearted comedy and drama. Without looking to much into it, I appreciate the simplicity of the show. I am a law student, so it's hard not to analyze everything that comes forth. But sometimes I want to watch a show without any ramifications or implications of not paying attention, something pleasing to the eyes (cast and scenery) yet easy on the mind (especially after a full day of classes).

    Though Fairly Legal may not be a show I become a cult member of, it will definitely be a series I watch weekly. To see if my review has any meaning to you here are some other shows currently running that I follow religiously:
    Psych, Californication, Entourage, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, White Collar, The League, and I just recently got into Episodes.
  4. Feb 25, 2011
    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.
  5. Mar 22, 2011
    "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?) Expand

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: Ed Bark
    Jan 20, 2011
    [Sarah Shahi] plays this lead role with assurance and aplomb, elevating the entire enterprise in the process.
  2. Reviewed by: Aaron Barnhart
    Jan 20, 2011
    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: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 20, 2011
    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.