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Just two episodes into the fourth season of TNT’s underrated hit cop drama Southland, viewers are already buzzing about it. From its perfect casting and its unapologetically brazen appeal, the show has easily picked up right where shows like Brooklyn Heights and New York Undercover left off. Here are five reasons you need to be watching it:

Regina King: Let’s face it; she’s really the reason to watch anything. But in Southland, the veteran actress has found her niche as the tough yet compassionate Detective Lydia Adams. She’s smart, real, and not afraid to speak her mind, but never at the expense of becoming that “angry black woman.” In essence, she’s that roundaway girl ladies would want to grab a drink with, and that intellectual woman that men can bring home to mama.

It’s one of the best shows you may not be watching: In 2009, NBC discarded this gritty cop drama from its lineup after not airing a single episode of its five completed, reportedly claiming the show was too dark for their 9pm time slot. But one network’s trash is another’s treasure. TNT was more than happy to pick up this flailing drama in January 2010, where it can still be seen today. This is the one of the best dramas on TV. It’s time to prove to NBC how big a mistake they made in letting it go.

Black star power: Raise your hand if you can think off the top of your head how many cop series there have been featuring a black woman as the lead. Right, not many. Too few, actually. Usually the black actress is downstairs in the lab, quickly dragging the body in, or the hardened commissioner. Detective Adams is center stage, hitting the streets, running after vicious criminals and asking the tough questions. You’ve got to love a show that doesn’t hide its best talent from the central storyline.

Lucy Liu: Kick starting what will hopefully be a long stint on the series, film star Lucy Liu has joined the show this season as Officer Jessica Tang. And, just as you’d expect, the always spot-on action star fits right into the show’s brassy format we’ve all come to know and love. Right out the gate, the actress is kicking butt and taking names, and already has the male-dominated squad appropriately shook. Adding Liu just seemed like a natural progression, and it’s good to be able to watch her now each week.

Because it’s good: Southland is like a wild animal you can’t tame and are slightly frightened by, but you’re so hypnotized by its every movement from one scene to the next that you can’t turn away. Ferocious and mean but so smart and authentic, the show will make you forget you’re watching network television with its cleverly censored format. Just like when you listen to a radio edit of your favorite jam, you still know what they’re really saying, and you love them even more because of it.

Catch Southland Tuesdays on TNT at 10pm.

Watch Season 4 Trailer:

Candice Frederick is an NABJ award-winning print journalist, film critic, and blogger for Reel Talk.

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