• Network: ,
  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 9, 2009
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
Southland Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 115 Ratings

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  • Summary: After being cancelled by NBC, John Wells' drama about the Los Angeles police department finds a new home on TNT.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Action & Adventure, Suspense
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. What Southland has, already, is its own swagger, a get-outta-my-way style of moving and talking that says it's going for the raw edges we see on cable shows like "Breaking Bad." Southland pulls it off, too. If Thursday night's premiere episode is an indication how it plans to roll, it's a keeper.
  2. Reviewed by: Randee Dawn
    It's compelling from minute one to credit roll--exciting, smart, realistic and brilliant, all in one brightly lit package.
  3. Action and tight-squeeze situations outweigh eloquent pronouncements about 100 to 1 on this drama from ER's John Wells. It may not be the greatest show on Earth, but it's the most powerful cop drama in a few years.
  4. Of the two new cop shows this week, Southland is the more serious and realistic. It also demonstrates the potential for greater depth in its exploration of characters and their stories.
  5. 70
    If the genre is no longer groundbreaking, it's still compelling in skilled hands.
  6. 70
    The show is what it is--no surprises, no disappointments.
  7. 37
    Southland is unbearable--a pretentious, foul-mouthed, overly arty chore that will leave you with a headache should you linger too long.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 41
  2. Negative: 4 out of 41
  1. May 20, 2013
    This is the best cop drama show you've never seen. If you're a fan of gritty, realistic takes on crime dramas and like other, more popular shows like The Wire or The Shield, then check this out.

    Southland gets everything right from authenticity, acting, directing/writing to plot & direction. The show was cancelled by NBC after a very short 7 episode season, and thankfully, TNT took a gamble and picked it up to offer another 4 seasons. Season 2 is only 6 episodes long (it's basically the 2nd half of season 1) but the others have 10 episodes each. The show has an ensemble cast for the first 2 seasons (again, think 1 season for S1 & S2 combined) as the budget was a lot higher for the show- so we get to see various law enforcement characters at various levels within the LAPD (from street cops to detectives from Homicide & Gangs/Narcotics division). In season 3, we see a gradual reduction of the cast to work around the budget- the nice thing being that all the characters that leave have an explanation and don't just disappear, so it feels natural. The show then shifts focus on our 4 main characters of rookie officer Ben Sherman, veteran FTO John Cooper, homicide Det. Lydia Adams & gangs Det. (and later FTO) Sammy Bryant. These actors sure know how to bring the performances.

    The style of this show is top notch and professional all the way from real-world settings (hardly any sets), accurate street slang, cop speak and perfect pop culture references, and the characters deal with real-world situations like normal human beings, making mistakes, screwing up, paying for some mistakes, and dealing with life as police officers (the grind/dealing with people at their worst).

    I'm disappointed the show got cancelled just on principle alone, but I'm thankful TNT saved this gem from an early death and gave us 4 more seasons of brilliant tv drama. The show's S5 series ending, IMO, is perfect, though many fans were disappointed in the cancellation and felt the show ended with too much suspense and "cliffhanger" ending; basically, they wanted resolution and wanted to see more.

    I personally felt we saw all we needed to see of these characters; could there have been more material? Sure, but I felt it ended how the show started- coming out swinging and fighting- sending a clear message that life is not what you always hope and plan it to be; sh*t happens and hits the fan and we all don't handle or react the way we'd like to think we'd react. Sometimes, heroes are born, other times, villainous actions result. Yes, some of the character's stories are left in limbo, but I feel that it was dome in such a perfect way that we can make our own decisions about where they go from there. I feel that several characters are given the closure and "happy" endings that they deserved, while others, faced adversity or life/death situation as a result of their on-screen actions throughout the series.


    John Cooper is shot in his final scene; many fans want to know what happened to him. Ben Sherman is also left as a broken cop on the path to becoming everything he set out not to be: corrupt, womanizing & breaking the law for his own means (justifying it, in his mind, but wrong nonetheless). I personally feel that we don't need to see what happens to them because we saw everything leading up to these scenes building up to inevitable breaking points. Sherman can go either way from here: go back to being a good cop, by-the-book and caring about those he serves, or he can continue down the dark path of selfishness, pride, egotistical and corruption.
    Cooper has been shot multiple times by police- the end result of a lifetime of pent up aggression, frustration and trauma from divorce, being gay in a machismo career, multiple job injuries, drug addiction/alcohol, son of criminal father (murderer who never expressed love for John), a wife who didn't want to reconnect or have a baby, seeing his FTO being suicidal/depressed and wanting to eat his own gun since there's "nothing left" after retirement, etc., etc.

    John & Ben's story arcs are tragic character arcs (John's way more than Ben's) that played out naturally, leaving people feeling uncomfortable.

    Give this show a chance and go into with the knowledge that this is what cops deal with; this is how the streets are. This is how life is for some. I really enjoyed it and it's one of my favorite tv shows- up there with Breaking Bad, The Shield, The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter and now Hannibal.

    This has some serious drama and shocking, jaw-dropping moments. More so than any other show I've seen because it's so realistic.
  2. Mar 11, 2011
    Southland is such a good show. The show is always interesting and continues to keep me tuning in for more. The characters are very interesting and they have had some wild surprises. I don't know how anyone could call Southland a horrible show when it the exact opposite. I couldn't believe it when NBC cancelled but I am hoping that TNT continues to bring us more Southland. Expand
  3. Jan 18, 2012
    Thank goodness they still have good dramas on TV, I think this is a compelling, engrossing and continues to give us insight into the characters lives and what makes them interesting to watch. Expand
  4. Mar 21, 2012
    I've watched every episode the first time it aired since the pilot and this is my favorite cop show after The Shield ended. I was heartbroken when it was axed from NBC, so THANK YOU TNT for seeing its potential and resurrecting it.

    While it's in the same vein as dozens of other cop dramas, the writers have managed to keep the plot fairly fresh and somewhat unpredictable. I just watched the season 4 finale and cannot wait for season 5 to begin, whenever that'll be.
  5. Feb 14, 2013
    The best Cop show on TV. Gritty, characters you care about, moral dilemas around every corner, with South Central Los Angeles as the artist' canvas. A GREAT show. Expand
  6. Sep 13, 2010
    I can't help comparing Southland to The Shield - perhaps because of the LA setting. Certainly, the show doesn't shy away from a tough representation of the LAPD, though it doesn't make corruption its central theme like The Shield did.

    In fact the one complaint I might level againt the show is the lack of a central story. The characters do evolve a little over the course of the series but the show never really carries a thread to full completion, and it sometimes feels like it's showing random snippets from different characters - more "a day in the life..." rather than "the story off...". However, because of this the show also has a pretty unique style, and over the 12 episodes it works really well.
  7. Sep 18, 2012
    Not the instant satisfaction I got from the shield but over time it wore off on me and now I think the show is great. Not the instant satisfaction I got from the shield but over time it wore off on me and now I think the show is great. Expand

See all 41 User Reviews

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