If you’re anything like me – a typical American with a an office job, a rescue dog, and a slight rosé problem – then the duties and drama of first-responder shows is like a vicarious vacation into heart-stopping melodrama. From reality shows like A&E’s Live PD to huge syndicate-backed dramas like FOX’s 9-1-1, the pool of shows that center around firefighters, police, EMTs and the like are well worth exploring.
Though I’m fully aware of my Miranda rights, I confess: I’m a little biased when it comes to Live PD. Growing up, I lived for Cops and any reality show based on the police taking down the bad guys. When YouTube came around, I spent hours watching compilations of the “best” or “funniest” bloopers that Cops had to offer. So when Live PD came out, I was hooked on it from the first season, DVR-ing every new episode. It’s addictive because it bleeds authenticity. From Sean “Sticks” Larkin – a Gang Unit investigator from Tulsa – to the live-hosted “control room,” jumping from real-time action in one city to another, everything about Live PD feels right and real. (9pm ET Fridays, A&E)
Creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear reimagine one of the most durable genres in all of television, the emergency procedural, with 9-1-1. Exploring the high-pressure experiences of police officers, firefighters and dispatchers who are exposed to the most intense and frightening scenarios people face, 9-1-1 is a well-executed drama all around. From city-wide earthquakes that destroy hotels and shatter freeways to rampant dismemberment, 9-1-1 doesn’t shy away from using its big budget to flex some pretty convincing CGI effects. (9pm ET Mondays, FOX)
Maybe it’s my love for all things Lonely Island- or Andy Samberg-related. Perhaps it’s my love of single-cam sitcoms that involve franchise-long running jokes and guest appearances by the likes of Craig Robinson, Nick Offerman, and more. In any case, I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Dropped by FOX last year only to be picked up by NBC 48 hours later, the fan favorite returns in its best form yet and has kept me waiting impatiently every week to catch up on the happenings of the B99. If you enjoy The Office or Parks and Recreation – and you’re looking for a cop sitcom in the same vein – you’ll love Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Trust me on this one. Nine-nine! (9pm ET Thursdays, NBC)
I’m happy to report that the snozberries still taste like snozberries. For anyone too young (or mature) to remember 2001’s Super Troopers, this show may not be for you. However, for us remaining heathens, Tacoma FD gives us a fresh dose of the Broken Lizard boys (or at least two of them – Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme). I’m not going to tell you that this show offers any realistic depiction of firefighter work – but, I will tell you it’s hilarious, easy to binge-watch, and worth checking out. (10:30pm ET Thursdays, truTV)
The First 48
Bearing the A&E brand as it does, I expected The First 48 to feel like Cold Case Files or Live PD. However, The First 48 is a real-life docudrama that follows detectives who are investigating murders, violent crimes, and other grisly scenes. The authentic, no-holds-barred nature of this show is enthralling and will drag you in. (8pm ET Thursdays, A&E)