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

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 27 Ratings

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  • Summary: Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi) leaves litigation to become a mediator after the death of her father.
  • Genre(s): Drama
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: 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Ginia Bellafante
    Jan 17, 2011
    40
    Like the relationship the series feels unfinished, not altogether there in its understanding of itself.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 2 out of 5
  1. 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. Expand
  2. Jan 25, 2011
    8
    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.
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  3. Jan 26, 2011
    5
    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
  4. 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.
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  5. 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?)
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