The Root Roundup: What We're Watching on TV

Television used to get a bad rap for subpar programming. No more. These days, some of the best writing and acting can be found on the little screen. A monthly guide to the best of what's out there.

Freema Agyeman, Laz Alonso, Regina King, Michael Ealy

Television was once regarded as a low-culture medium -- a form of entertainment for the masses, not for those with discernment or taste. While TV programming has changed immensely over the last 60 years, television is sometimes still seen through that lens, despite the tremendous strides made by cable and traditional networks. Recent "reality" programming hasn't helped the cause.

Each month, The Root will bring you television shows that are worth watching. Here are a few we're watching now (all times are Eastern Standard Time).

Tuesday 10 p.m., TNT

Southland, starring Regina King, Ben McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy and Michael Cudlitz, is by far one of the best shows on television in the United States. It follows the personal and professional lives of the cops who patrol the streets of Los Angeles. Stylistically, the show does a great job representing the ugliness of the criminals in the city against a backdrop of blue skies, sun-drenched neighborhoods and palm trees. It convincingly portrays, through its characters and realistic storylines, the complexity of being a cop and trying to maintain a "normal" life or relationship with friends and family.

The show also takes an unflinching look at the challenges of being a cop through characters such as Detective Lydia Adams -- played by King -- who must balance work with personal responsibilities for her family; and officer Chickie Brown, played by Arija Bareikis, who is trying to be the first woman on SWAT. The cognitive dissonance of the characters is reflected in the sound editing of the show.

Like Boomtown, perhaps the best TV cop show ever, NBC unceremoniously canceled Southland. Luckily, however, TNT resuscitated it, and we now have the opportunity to watch a cop show that far exceeds any other on mainstream television.

Why you should watch: A cop-show lover's dream -- Boomtown meets The Shield -- with impeccable acting and stories that make you care about the characters and the community.

The Good Wife
Tuesday 10 p.m., CBS

The Good Wife is a good show, stacked with a great cast that includes Julianna Margulies, Christopher Noth, Christine Baranski and Michael Ealy. It follows the life of Alicia Florrick (played by Margulies), the wife of jailed politician Peter Florrick (Noth), whose life and political career went down in flames because of a political scandal. Florrick publicly stands by her man, while privately taking control of her life. A lawyer, she returns to work at an elite law firm -- which means she has to navigate the sharks in the firm as well as those who have publicly decimated her private life -- while rebuilding her career and credibility.

Ealy convincingly plays the role of Derrick Bond, a lawyer who is venomous in his pursuit of power. Dreamgirl's Anika Noni Rose guest-starred on the show this season as Wendy Scott-Carr, a dynamic lawyer and young mother running for district attorney against a newly freed Peter Florrick. And then there's Archie Panjabi as Kalinda, one of the law firm's investigators -- and one of TV's more complex creations. She is definitely not your stereotypical Indian female character.