Who Wants Southland‘s Gay Cop to Handcuff You?


Raise your hand if you watched the premiere of Southland on NBC last night! Our conclusion: We’re loving this show, and not just because The O.C.‘s Ben McKenzie has grown from a brooding angst-y teen into a handsome conflicted rookie. Oh, and then there’s John Cooper, the partner to McKenzie’s Ben Sherman played by Michael Cudlitz, who’s a big homo! And as we learned before the premiere, he’s the straight-acting, shit-talking, machismo-fueled type. (Possible spoilers ahead.)

And as we learned on last night’s episode: He looks great in a tight black tee. The last scene of the hour-long cop drama set in Los Angeles shows Cooper at a gay bar, where he runs into a fella we see previously in the show — when he was arrested for cruising at a local park. It’s the type of smart, not-in-your-face introduction to Cooper’s sexuality we appreciate, since it lets the character develop not as a gay cop, but as a cop who’s gay.

And now that NBC canceled Kings after just four episodes, robbing the network’s primetime schedule from a central gay character, it’s nice to see Cooper filling the void.

Especially when Cooper is Los Angeles cop, which real life LAPD chief (and Queerty‘s 2008 Homo Of The Year) William Bratton must appreciate.

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  • Aaron J.

    Kings was canceled? Lame.

  • Ed

    This was a lovely way to do a gay reveal – and that’s not me being ironic. It was subtle, matter-of-fact. It was just a part of his life. And interestingly, a part of his personal life was revealed, while the straight lead’s was really not touched. The may be on to something.

    On a non-gay note, did anybody find it odd that on a scripted network show, they had them swear with words you can’t say on TV and beep them out, rather than going for more acceptable words?

  • Elijah

    While they could still fuck it up big time, it’s already made history as [to the best of my early A.M. memory] the first non-gay centric TV drama in which one of the two LEADS is gay [HUGE difference from “central character”]…and a butch gay cop at that!

    My reactions, while mostly positive, were far more mixed than yours. But that gay character is played magnificently by Cudlitz. His naturalistic delivery of lines often overcomes their inherent cliche/failed eloquence [tough, seen-it-all, no-time-for-bullshit cop]. And, tho it won’t happen here EITHER, I was one of those silly savages who wanted to see “Ryan” [McKenzie, who may have played the gay character in Albee’s “Zoo Story” at U of V & is a 9 on my Gaydar] and “Seth” to civil union in “The O.C.”

    Frankly, I don’t care if “Southland’s” good, by my “artistic” standards [or all ye who live to dis, no doubt, clocking in soon] or not. I just want to see a mostly-positive gay lead character on a show that Middle America will watch. The top pro reviewers like it, with some qualifications, but shows they’ve boned for, particularly premiering this late in the still semi-traditional network season, have been axed before. [“USA Today’s” prissy crtic pans it for, among other reasons, being “foulmouthed”…..cops foulmouthed? Stop the presses!]

    Television is STILL the most influential medium for that demographic who STILL have their voter machine hands around our balls.

    Here’s hoping…..

  • Jeff

    The more acceptable words aren’t realistic and they’ll probably be uncensored in the DVD.

  • Aaron J.

    Leland, why do you post here as “Elijah”?

  • Aaron J.

    Leland, you’re “Elijah” now?

  • James

    Kings wasn’t officially canceled. It was moved to Saturday nights where it will finish off its season and will very likely not be renewed.

    Personally, I loved Southland and hope it lasts through the season. The final scene was kind of a throwaway one with the revealing of one character’s homosexuality, but I have a feeling we won’t see much of his life as its more of a cop show than a cop’s life show.

  • Aaron J.

    Supposedly a 7-minute scene was cut out of this episode for lack of time. It will air with the third episode.

    @Elijah: Leland?

  • Aaron J.

    Supposedly a 7-minute scene was cut out of this episode for lack of time. It will air with the third episode.

  • rogue dandelion

    @Aaron J.: omg i was so excited for it! now i am so sad.

    do we need ANOTHER COP SHOW? god who cares! LAPD are dicks, end of story. another straight acting gay guy- what progress! UGH

    bring back kings!

  • Alec

    Kings was cancelled after four episodes? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you….I expected it to be shelved after the first episode. It was an interesting concept, but I figured there was no way audiences would go for it.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Ed: I think that was a way to show ‘realism” They shoot is docudrama style.

  • Aaron J.

    So I’m actually not retarded. All those comments were caught in moderation limbo.

  • Geoff

    I watched this w/my husband last night, and while I generally liked the show, he wasn’t to enthused about it. I think it’s going to become something really cool if they let it stay on the air.

  • Jake

    @rogue dandelion:

    “Straight acting gay guy” ………………. Yeah I would rather have a “GAY” acting “GAY” guy. WOW! ………. Maybe he could have been a real “FAG” and that would have been better.

    I thought he was fantastic. I also loved the show.

  • Dal

    I thought the show was great, though with as many characters that are in the show, I am not sure we will see a lot of the gay side of Cooper. The show will be more dedicated to life on the street as a cop. That being said I am glad to see a character that is a hard nosed cop who just happens to be gay, It shows that not all of us fit into one stereotype.

  • Lyle Palaski

    Hey, I watched the show not knowing anything about the gay character, so all I can say is that is one aspect of this particular pilot episode that makes me want to watch the next episode. And that’s all you can ask from a pilot. I did like a lot about it anyway, that was an added bonus.

    To Rogue Dandelion:
    “…another Cop Show…”
    “…all LAPD cops are dicks…”
    “…another straight acting gay guy…”

    Write your own show.

  • The Gay Numbers

    I would like to get to a point where it does not matter how a character “acts” to demonstrate they are gay. So long as this character is out with his sexuality, I doubt I will care. If he’s a close case- then I will care. That’s my only criteria about being gay. That- and don’t put down other gays for nothing acting like you act in terms of levels of pereceived masculinity. If you are queen, be a proud queen. If you are masculine guy, be that. I don’t like straight acting because it implies that one is faking who they are. If someone is not being themselves, there’s a problem. But there are guys who don’t have a problem with whatever someone is so long as they and I and others around us can be comfortable being what we are. I know what I describe is not reality yet, but I would love to see it. I just had a fight with a friend who keeps wanting to lock me in a box. He assumes because I do not particularly like certain things, but I do like o thers- this makes me less of a gay man. I don’t appreciate that view.

  • jake

    I read the AfterElton piece. John Wells did not say a 7 minute scene was cut he said 7minute were cut. I assume that only some of the 7 minutes was devoted to his “Gayness” …………….. We will see. I hope we see more. Very good show.

  • Andrew Hime

    Actually, it was interesting, they let “asshole” through once and then bleeped it later in the episode.

  • bakalao

    Alby Grant’s character on “Big Love” is in the closet, but HBO didn’t inundate us with all of his sexual encounters. They just showed us enough to get the point that he was gay. I imagine this will apply to John Copper’s character on Southland.

  • Tim

    I would rather have Officer McKenzie take me in for lengthly interrogation……………….

  • pikkupman

    As a retired CHP officer who happens to be gay, I think Southland is AWESOME and the first episode was RIGHT ON. The interactions between the officers and the banter was 100% realistic. I worked road patrol my entire career and was out for the last 15 years of my career. With an exception or two, my peers couldn’t have cared less. You earn the respect of your fellow officers, and the rest takes care of itself. I never “acted” straight…I just acted like myself…which kind of confused some of my coworkers who couldn’t understand how a gay guy could be a no nonsense, take charge, get the job done kind of guy! Most of these people never had any contact with a gay man, and I was able to help them understand that all the stereotypes are not true. The way they revealed the sexuality of Cooper was perfect…I thought something was up when I first watched the final scene…rewatched it and confirmed my thought, and then got on google…and sure enough, it was the case. Most of my gay friends missed it. This is a REVOLUTIONARY character who will help break down stereotypes of who and what a gay man is…

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