Police Procedural; Rookie cop and experienced veteran opposite multiethnic detective team. Shaky Cam and Battlestar Galactica style drama abound.It's pretty much LAPD Galactica.Whereas other cop shows on TV tend to be almost like a stylish video game, Southland prides itself on being dark and gritty. Several police officers have claimed that it's the most realistic cop show on TV.
This series provides examples of:
Amicable Exes: John & Laurie. If he hadn't come out as gay they would probably still be together, and they still clearly care for each other.
Anyone Can Die: Seemingly played straight at the end of season 1, but averted in that Russell survives his neighbor shooting him. Completely played straight with Nate in season 3 and Lucero in season 5.
Art Shift: When Tang and Cooper are being filmed by a documentary crew in "Integrity Check," the shots are far more vivid and colorful as opposed to the dull sepia tone that we normally see.
Asshole Victim: Not too rarely, the people the detectives and patrolmen come across are this. The case leads can decide to be lenient on the perpetrators, but they're still beholden to the law, so vigilantes are usually punished for their crimes.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Officer Tang. After taking down a lunatic drug addict at the end of one episode, she starts the next with a seriously bruised face
Sammy's life story at this point. S1 and S2 show his wife to be a lunatic. In Season 3, she's a cheating skank. He becomes involved in the lives of two kids, Janila and Li'l Casper. Janila ends up in Witness Protection after multiple attempts on her life, and Li'l Casper murders someone. And finally, he loses Nate, the one good and constant thing in his life! He copes by bonding with Nate's widow and children, until they become like a surrogate family to him. Then she leaves to avoid awkwardness a few episodes later. Guy just can't catch a break.
British Brevity: Or the American equivalent at least, the first two seasons had 6 and 7 episodes respectively, season 3 had 10 and season 4 is scheduled to also have 10. This an oddity on TNT as most of their procedurals have anywhere from 15 to 20 episodes.
Darker and Edgier: Upon moving to TNT from NBC due to the looser restraints on content.
Driven to Suicide: Mike, the gay teenager who is found on a roof in "Legacy." While his first attempt fails, his second succeeds.
Family Relationship Switcheroo: Moretta reveals to Sammy that his "little sister" is actually his daughter from a previous relationship. His girlfriend got pregnant just as he was about to begin his service in the Army, and his parents didn't want them to give the baby away to be raised by a stranger, so they took her in and masqueraded as her parents. Moretta's daughter doesn't take the news well; she begins acting out in the second season.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Ben Sherman. He starts out as a wealthy kid who wants to do good and sees law enforcement as a noble profession to which he can contribute to society. After three seasons, a near death experience, dealing with his mentor/father figure's "do as I saw, not as I do" hypocrisy, Sherman breaks bad and becomes a dirty cop who uses excessive force, turns a blind eye on his other dirty cops corruption, and sees his job as a thankless task that has wiped out the idealistic goody guy he used to be
Gayngst: Averted by Cooper, who tells a gay teenager that he has a lot of problems, but being gay isn't one of them.
Heel Face Turn: Ben Sherman becomes a completely dirty cop by Season 5.
I Am Spartacus: A local community is harassing a registered sex offender and end up by burning his house down. When Cooper and Tang try to find out who did it, every member of the local community replies "I set the fire."
I Did What I Had to Do: When their boss, Sal, loses his gun, Dets. Moretta and Bryant justify the department's (unauthourized) full-court press of the neighbourhood to each other by pointing out that they wouldn't have found out about a much bigger gun-running operation otherwise.
Money-strapped Russ sells the photos that happened to come from Lydia's phone for a half a million dollars to TMZ. He lets her know that he didn't know they'd come from her phone, but his explanation is not appreciated ("I don't even know you, dude"). Needless to say, that friendship/UST is over and Russ is probably going to leave LA.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He tried to help a prostitute in Graduation Day (okay, he also threatened to taze her) but he tried to help her and seemed genuinely unhappy when he found her high on a bench.
Made of Iron: The sheer amount of hell Dewey has gone through only rivals Cooper. He's survived flipping a car at the end of season one. In season five, after having a heart attack, he's back on the job in two weeks.
Non-Idle Rich: Sherman comes from a wealthy background, but he lives and breathes being a cop, often creating a distance to his old friends and family.
Pair the Spares: Non-romantic example at the end of season 3. Sammy and Sherman had both lost their partners, and Rule of Drama places them together when one transfers departments. Wonder Boy and Gangland Sammy together on the streets? Next season's gonna be fuuuuun.
Parenting the Husband: The inverse is true: Tammi is so unbelievable naive, flaky, and Jerk Ass-y, that Sammy often appears to be the exasperated husband AND father!
Teens Are Monsters: The teenagers in "Legacy" who beat Mike up, put his in a dress and drive him to commit suicide. Oh, and the cause of this is that a guy pretended to like him and then outed him to everyone.
Television Geography: Heavily, heavily averted. One of the things the crew of the show prides themselves on is that they film a LOT of scenes on location. In fact, the riot scene in the season 2 premiere was actually filmed in South Central, and according to Word Of God, at one point the cast and crew were fearing for their lives due to a lot of onlookers not knowing the riot wasn't real.