The Shield – Retrospective


A bunch of corrupt and morally ambiguous cops is an interesting focus for a TV show. So interesting – and unique – in it’s presentation and delivery, it had been copied numerous times, but – in my opinion – never bettered.

The Shield follows Vic Mackey, the leader of a police strike team in the fictional Los Angeles town of Farmington. Residing right on the border between Mexico and the United States, Farmington sees a colorful variety of criminal activities, from drug dealing, prostitution and murder; and it is uncompromising in its graphic details.

It’s controversial, gritty and – at times – really troubling to watch. But what wins out is how The Shield makes the viewer feel about the characters. None of the cops are black and white, good or evil. They feel very much in the human grey area. While Mackey and his team use illegal methods to control the drugs market, you can’t say they’re not doing it for the right reasons. When they kill a child rapist, you can’t help but feel the guy deserved it. It’s this constant moral fence hopping The Shield has the viewer doing that makes it so engrossing.

The writing is of a superior standard, and the dialogue is incredibly realistic. Impressively, it manages to be ‘street’ without dropping the F bomb every second. After 7 seasons, it never loses its power to mesmerise.

There are great performances across the board. No one is a weak character. From Mackey’s gruff renegade cop, who at heart is a decent man who cares deeply for his family and friends, David Aceveda the police captain who will stop at nothing to become mayor, Shane Vendrell, the well meaning coward, and Kavanaugh, the internal affairs investigator who is almost as dirty and ruthless as the officers he investigates.

The Shield is one of the best crime/police shows ever written, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you will want to get at least two seasons to get started, because one episode is never enough.