As i have said before Southland is good, in fact very good. i have lost track of how many series i’ve watched. Hope it’s not finished.
My favourite characters in it were many in number. i particularly liked the women characters as being the antithesis of the usual supposedly positive role models in American shows which are not positive at all. By that i mean with the exception of Olivia Benson in the Law & Order series Special Victims Unit most supposed tough female Cops are not tough at all and are squired around and protected by their male partners. Much like the God awful female roles in vampire shows in which the women are surely subject, but apparently loving it, to the most sinister old school sexism of all.
In Southland we have two female Cops as partners and we see they can do it all. They are mean and bad ass. They don’t need a man for the heavy lifting eg. chasing a perp down, cuffing him, or going on very dangerous shoot outs alone against a deranged mass killer (Lydia).
As in my previous write up Part One-i also really like all the men characters. We learn more about their lives, loves, passions than the women. We see their tragedies unfold before us. One male character is shockingly and surprisingly murdered. We follow his partner through his grief and obsession and fear frozen freak out when he can’t identify the suspect in a line-up.
We even find the big hatchet-faced Chief drop everything to find his daughter one night at a pill popping party when she calls him just as she’s coming up and losing it. He doesn’t know where the hell she is. But he finds her.
We follow the first day of the fresh faced baby boy recruit, owner of a silver Porsche and from a well off background. Partnered by rough tough gruff heroic veteran Cop. The older Cop who turns out to care about small children and has a convict for a father, a disintegrating back and an addiction to painkillers of the heavy duty kind. When his back is bad he can barely move, he has a waist girdle on, begs his various sources for more pills, and travels around zoned out with sunglasses on.
Luckily towards the end of this series, his rookie recruit has grown so tough and learned so much from him he is operating single handed whilst his veteran partner drives. “Sunglasses on-it’s night” is a classic line from his rookie to his trainer as he ends one shift.
You grow to care about and be interested in the lives of all these male Cops. They are genuinely affecting in both their baby-faced innocence and sweetness. Certainly one of the anti-gang crew and the rookie for me. The anti-gang guy in particular with his tempestuous relationship with and abiding love for his wife. I cared less about the back story for Lydia which consisted of her living with her Mother who moaned a bit at her, then got an elderly boyfriend and kept Lydia up all night.
We come to admire the rookie’s steadfastness and perseverance in the face of ribbing and piss taking about his background. His early morning runs up some some giant steps in time with the tram. Lydia goes running too-she runs like the wind. The rookie meets his rich friends sometimes who are embarrassed he’s a Cop, like they were in a restaurant and he turned out to be their waiter.
We find out, with a beautifully fleeting scene, which nicely crushes our held stereotypes, with just a flash of a naked male bum next to him in bed one morning, that someone we would least expect to be, is gay.
The only sad thing about Southland is the unexplained disappearance of the most beautiful Police Chief ever who had an astounding Afro, wore fabulous trouser suits but was having an affair with the anti-gang chief who was married. That might have been why, and i may have missed that bit, but she was replaced.
Also a very slight tilt towards jumping the shark for me was showing my favourite woman Cop Lydia in bed with the admittedly gorgeous and moustachioed Rodriguez, who turned out to be her partner’s son, oops. American shows are funny:they boringly and predictably just have to show the main woman Cop in bed at some point (there is no escaping this trope) for a bit of shagging, yet they require her to be ever bra-ed up/covered, why? Hypocritical or what?
Plus, although it is so subtle you barely notice it, Southland is filmed in beautiful hues:sometimes washed out sepia like old faded photographs, sometimes black and white faded light like a newspaper, the sunlight often glows and plays throughout. It is downtown Los Angeles after all. South L.A. We see old Spanish buildings, sometimes with a beautiful courtyard and an empty fountain, houses, motels that people live in, flats and the occasional nice pad.
The male Cops eat outside mostly, sitting at counters. The female Cops eat inside, in nice places. The women sometimes treat a suspect to a slap up meal as they do with and alcoholic ex TV star. Even buying her cocktails to keep her sweet before Court.
Sometimes the sunlight blares in full force:golden yellow as in my favourite probably stand out scene. When veteran Cop comes back from a journey visiting his Convict Dad. Or rather appearing at his par4ole hearing to speak against his Dad ever coming out. He drives along an empty desert freeway and somehow or other drives off the road. He doesn’t crash since everywhere is flat. He reaches for his
ever ready painkiller tablets container and it pops open and as he opens his car door.
The veteran male Cop is terribly upset although he hasn’t shown it all this time leading up to the prison visit, instead becoming increasingly terse and bad tempered with his rookie whilst he is planning all his mysterious arrangements and special pass to go to prison. He tells nobody. It is oly when we see hiim, and it is only us, stand up in front of the parole board and reject his father’s plea for clemency and claim of having found God that we discover exactly what his father had done. Without giving it away his father is very, very bad.
As his pills spill out over the desert scrub and he crawls, prostate on the ground in the dust to try and find them, he is alone in the shimmering sizzling heat. He has nearly crashed and near weeping, he won’t, and lets out a loud and strangled bellow of pain that stretches on and on into the air.
The sun beats down on him in the dust. He is weeping but not weeping, crying but not crying, yelling out hurt hollerings like a grieving lament. You can feel the heat and the dryness of the desert. The light is a golden glow. This is my favourite scene, and all in all, my favourite character in Southland.