While there are no shortage of cop shows on the TV these days, 19-2 stands separate and above. Based on a French TV show of the same name, 19-2 follows the professional and personal lives of police officers Nick Barron and Ben Chartier, two Montreal cops of district 19 assigned to be partners (in car 2, hence the title of the show). The two men find themselves entangled in a mess of personal drama and professional danger, the lines between the two often intertwined.
If there’s one thing 19-2 is really good at, it’s showing that being a cop is not an easy job. The show illustrates just how easily it is for normal, everyday situations to get out of control, threatening the safety of police and civilians alike. In 19-2, even a simple noise complaint can quickly escalate and become dangerous. The stress of being a police officer is well demonstrated in 19-2 with numerous trivial calls and upset civilians juxtaposed against the more serious gang violence and organized crime that Ben and Nick are forced to deal with.
Issues that are very much current and in the news are also touched on in the show. 19-2 has police officers accused of excessive use of force and making bad judgement calls all whilst eagle-eyed civilians film them on their cell phones. There are some scenes out of 19-2 that could be taken straight out of the YouTube videos that show civilians testing their rights in confrontations with police over trivial matters that could’ve been resolved quickly and peacefully. The documentary-style feel of 19-2 often has the viewer forgetting that they’re watching a drama.
The ways in which personal problems can affect on-the-job performance and temperament, and the internal squabbles that exist within a police station are also a huge part of what makes 19-2 so good. Troubled pasts, addiction, hazing, relationship drama, and hierarchical disputes are all a part of the daily operations on and off the job of the cops of precinct 19.
19-2 is a show that excels at pacing. Action and danger feel ever-present while Nick and Ben are on the job, creating an atmosphere of almost constant tension. Tension is relieved somewhat once the two cops are off the job, but often conflict is still persistent. 19-2 has a way of making personal drama feel just as dangerous as the violence present on the streets of Montreal’s district 19. That being said, there are several instances of danger and tension that truly stand out in the show’s 3-season run (so far). Without a doubt, the most notable would be an episode in season 2 that features a shooter in a high school. Without giving any spoilers, this is perhaps the most nerve-wracking sequence of any episode of television I have ever seen (also probably due to the fact that it was released around a time when a school shooting occurred in the U.S.). I remember sitting down to watch the episode while eating dinner and not touching my food for 20 minutes while the situation played out. To add to the anxiety of an already stressful situation, this episode employed a long take (a shot uninterrupted by cuts) that lasted about 14 minutes, a film technique known for its ability to increase tension.
If you’ve grown tired of cop dramas (I wouldn’t blame you if you have), do yourself a favour and give 19-2 a chance. Aside from the fact that it’s Canadian TV show and it doesn’t suck (a rare thing indeed), this show will give you an insight into the daily lives of police officers and the things they deal with on a daily basis. While a fictional and highly dramatized series, 19-2 provides an interesting perspective on the lives of cops and, in light of recent events in the news, shows the other side of the coin, so to speak, of police-civilian interaction.
19-2 returns to Bravo next year for its fourth and final season.