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Relationship Recap: Southland’s Beat Cops John Cooper and Ben Sherman 

Photo Credit: TNT

This week marked the return of the gritty and intense Southland. I came to this party so late I never even saw it on NBC. By the time it was on my radar I was watching episodes on TNT and I’m just fine with that. I like cop shows (and watch many) and I like that this one is doing something a bit different. I love that we’re out on the streets with the officers and detectives as well as in their homes. But mostly I love that all these characters are deeply flawed. I don’t want to see some glossed over, highly stylized version of LA. I live here; I see that every day. I want to see something more real. Yes, this is a TV show but I do feel like I’m discovering another facet of Los Angeles. It’s not one I want to look at every day, but it’s certainly compelling.

Michael Cudlitz’s John Cooper is the veteran of this partnership. He’s addicted to pain killers and deeply closeted. He’s got an ex-wife who has turned into a sort-of dealer, although she’s trying to extricate herself from that arrangement. Benjamin McKenzie’s Ben Sherman has just finished his year of rookie training; he’s now a full-fledged cop. Ben comes from a life of privilege but after his mother was raped and his father left the family, he decided to protect and serve. The fact that these two men are partners makes for some very good television.

In this week’s episode, we see Ben growing into a more confident cop although that confidence ultimately leads to tragedy. He’s willing to disagree and/or go against the instructions of John, which is very necessary. He’s also concerned enough about John to say something about his back. Now, I know how guys are. It takes a lot for them to talk to each other about real issues (I’m not judging; at least not right now) so you know it has to be bad. John’s not ready to admit he has a problem, much less accept help, but I feel better knowing Ben’s got his back. On the other hand it is hard watching Ben become more disillusioned and cynical. I love that he didn’t give a ticket to the woman in the porsche. I didn’t love that he ended up going home with her at the end of the night. And John’s back is so bad he’s having trouble walking/sitting/standing. If he’s in that much pain, I’m worried about how much pain medication he’s dosing himself with. This could get very, very bad. Whatever they do individually or collectively, I’m interested in their stories. I can’t wait for more.

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