In 'Southland' and Beyond, Female Cops Are a Breed Apart

Last season, the L.A. cop drama Southland was canceled by NBC after seven episodes. Now those episodes are being rebroadcast on TNT (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET), with new episodes to follow. That's good news.

Here's even better news: Producers promise to delve deeper into the life of Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King), one of the most interesting and complicated female characters on TV.

Adams is a late-30something detective in the homicide division, who lives with (and cares for) her retired mother. "Each one of us had different reasons for why we became a cop," King said, in an interview with Crave Online. But Adams' own motivation is the heart of the show. "It has something to do with the choices she's made," said King. "Being a single woman."

In other words, Adams may be in the midst of a gritty police procedural -- with its dark, violent, masculine tone -- but she's struggling with issues that women might face on, say, ABC's Grey's Anatomy, or CBS' The Good Wife (or, for that matter, in real life.) Armed with a weapon or not, Adams still has to grapple with the work/family issues that come with the XX chromosome territory. "Earlier in her career, she's been like many women," King told TV Guide. "She's just career-driven and didn't think about the possibility of having a family…Now she's thinking about it."

At the same time, Adams is a top-notch cop who's devoted to her time-consuming job. King emphasizes that Adams is where she is because of determination and self-knowledge. "It takes a really specific person to want to be a police officer," said King. "To make that decision is a very specific train of thought."

But what do you do when the vocation you love is at odds with your personal life? How do you reconcile a thrilling career with the time it robs from your loved ones? These are the questions Adams must answer. In that way, she's like a lot of famously conflicted, female cops. Back when HBO's acclaimed police series, The Wire, was on the air (2002-'08), Detective Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) tried in vain to settle down and start a family with her girlfriend. In the end, she realized she was more committed to her job. On TNT's current hit series The Closer, Brenda Leigh (Kyra Sedgwick) is always walking a tightrope between the murderers she pursues and the new husband who wishes she'd pursue him with as much zeal. 

In the coming weeks, we'll see Adams navigate two metaphorical minefields: the crime-ridden streets of South Central L.A. and the personal relationships of her life outside of work. Which will be a greater challenge? Well, that remains to be seen.

Who's your favorite female cop on TV? Chime in below!

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