Jennifer Lopez continued her entertainment domination last night as her brand new TV series Shades of Blue premiered on NBC. We checked out the show and have five reasons why you should, too.
The series, created by Adi Hasak and executive produced by Barry Levinson, follows Detective Harlee Santos (Lopez), a single mother of a teenage daughter and dedicated police officer. Though she seems committed to cleaning up her neighborhood, she also has another side; she and the rest of her crew, led by Lieutenant Bill Wozniak (Ray Liotta), are thoroughly crooked cops. The duality of her life seems to be working out fine until the FBI catches her in a compromising position and forces her to turn informant for them while still remaining under the watchful eye of her lieutenant.
Here’s our five reasons why the show is worth your time (other than seeing J. Lo for an hour every week!).
It’s not your typical cop show
As any cop show aficionado worth their weight in salt knows, TV series relating to cops and the justice system are a dime a dozen. Just check TBS or TNT at any given moment for a marathon of Law & Order or one of its spinoffs. While those shows hold a dear place in our hearts, Shades of Blue isn’t your average story of good vs. evil. The detectives at the center of this story are good at their jobs, yes, but they also happen to be incredibly corrupt. Think extorting bookies and drug dealers for half of the profits so the cops can pay for things like private school and gym memberships. Still, we see a degree of humanity in them that makes us root for a few of them, in particular J. Lo’s character Harlee Santos, a hard-working single mom with a sense of loyalty and dedication to her family (both blood and otherwise). In other words, these cops aren’t perfect by any means, but who among us are? It’s an interesting twist on the concept that cops are always good guys on TV.
J. Lo is outstanding
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Jennifer tackle such a weighty role and we’re pleased to see she still has the chops to pull off high drama without going too off the rails. Though she’s probably still the most beautiful cop we’ve ever seen, it’s noticeable that the show has tampered down her usual glamor girl looks, which adds believability to her character. She’s tough as nails, but the situation she stumbles into is daunting to say the least, and Jenny delivers that fear perfectly. We know that Harlee’s behavior (and her constant attempts to justify it) are despicable, but we can’t help but root for her. In the pilot alone, watching her tumble further and further into desperation is painful — but captivating — to watch.
…and the supporting cast is pretty great, too
Featuring an ensemble that includes Dayo Okeniyi as Harlee’s wide-eyed new partner Michael, Sarah Jeffery as Harlee’s wise-beyond-her-years teenage daughter Christina and Warren Kole as creepy FBI agent Robert Staal, the cast is stacked with actors that are prime for their positions. Ray Liotta unsurprisingly steals the show, however, as Harlee’s loyal-yet-brutal lieutenant Bill Wozniak, who comes off as more of a ruthless thug than any of the criminals he’s trying to keep in check.
The tension is thick
Harlee finds herself in a number of sticky situations in the first episode, and you’ll squirm in your seat watching her squirm in hers. It’s as if she only has a few seconds to breathe before the next barrel in this game of Russian Roulette is pointed at her. Jennifer plays off of Ray Liotta particularly well, and Liotta himself delivers plenty of suspense-building moments with just a few words in his gravelly tone.
…but the pace is breakneck, which is just right
As the tension builds, it doesn’t leave you hanging too often or for too long. A similar show might have drawn out the plot of Lt. Wozniak being unaware that there’s a “rat” in his crew, but by the end of the first episode, he already knows someone is watching him. This is the perfect example of how the series isn’t afraid to tackle dangerous and uncomfortable plot points for its characters more immediately instead of waiting until sweeps week, or worse, a cliffhanger finale. Then there’s the moment when Harlee shoots one of her own colleagues with literally no warning — for good reason, but still, it doesn’t get much more shocking than that.
If you missed the premiere, check out Shades of Blue on Hulu and make sure to set your DVR for Thursdays at 10pm/9pm CT on NBC.