Disney+ Crime Drama Turns The Good Guys Into Villains

By TeeJay Small | Published

In the modern era of dark, dramatic, serialized television shows, morally gray anti-heroes are all the rage. Series such as The Wire, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad have shown complex characters from across the moral and ethical spectrum, engaging in a host of foul behaviors for our viewing pleasure. One hit USA drama, The Shield, showed general audiences a shocking narrative of crooked police officers operating as the largest gang in Los Angeles, based loosely on true events.

Most Police Series Portray Officers As The Good Guys

box office

Before The Shield aired, the American police force was generally depicted on television as a force of good. TV dramas had shown crooked police officers before, but they were mostly used as an example of a single bad apple, rooted out and disposed of by upstanding officers who operate from a top-down structure of service and protection to the general public. The Sopranos even had a key episode in which the unimpeachable morals of a single police officer are shown to be incorruptible, even in the face of bribery, persecution, and humiliation.

A Corrupt LAPD Unit Front And Center In The Shield

The police officers that take front-and-center in The Shield are part of the highly corrupt anti-gang unit of the LAPD, led by Michael Chiklis’ Detective Vic Mackey. Throughout the show, Mackey and his lackeys take bribes, sell drugs, plant false evidence, and even outright murder their rivals in cold blood. This depiction of the police as a government-sanctioned street gang was revolutionary for its time, and paved the way for modern television series’ such as We Own This City, True Detective, Narcos, and 50 Cent’s Power franchise.

Based On Actual LAPD Ride-Alongs

The Shield was created and developed for television by Shawn Ryan, who clearly has a passionate interest in exposing police corruption. Ryan has gone on to helm a number of other shows, including The Chicago Code, Last Resort, S.W.A.T., and The Night Agent. Before assembling his writers room for the first season launch of The Shield, Ryan conducted a series of ride-alongs with real LAPD officers, and claims to have witnessed a wide array of harrowing behaviors on the streets.

An Unforgettbal 7 Season Run

The pilot of The Shield was based lightly on the Rampart Scandal of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which saw LAPD officers systemically taking millions of dollars in weapons, drugs, and other confiscated items and reselling them on the streets or keeping them for personal use. While the rest of the show continued to veer off from the path of the true story, writers utilized actual tales of police corruption to inspire storylines throughout The Shield‘s 7-season run.

See For Yourself, Stream On Disney+

While the show may not be cited as a modern classic as frequently as other outings like The Sopranos or The Wire, The Shield still maintains critical acclaim, and touts an incredible amount of rewatch value in our modern post-2020 society. The show currently holds a whopping 90 percent certified fresh critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with an even more impressive audience score of 96 percent.

For those interested in streaming The Shield, the series is available to view through the Hulu section of Disney+, which requires a subscription to both services to use.