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5 Shows like Chicago P.D.: A Chill in the Windy City
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5 Shows like Chicago P.D.: A Chill in the Windy City

James Thomas itcherPolice dramas are as much about where they take place as they are about the cops in front of the camera. TV shows like ‘Chicago PD’ convey the sense that if I were to jaywalk or skip a ticket in Chicago, or made the mistake of disrespecting a cop, a nightstick party might not be out of the question. If you like cop dramas where the city is a key character check out ‘Chicago Code’, ‘Law & Order SVU’, and ‘Southland’. ~ James Thomas

Policing Chicago Style

The premise of the show may seem pretty straight forward, but thanks to some clever writing of series similar to ‘Chicago P.D.’ keeps my attention with its characters and the setting.

Having been to Chicago I know it’s a beautiful place full of great people who couldn’t care less about your opinion of them. The show introduces us to the city’s darker side with the uniformed cops and detectives that make up the Intelligence Unit, which deals with the most dangerous crime in the city using some truly questionable methods to get the job done.

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Shows Similar to ‘Chicago P.D.’…

‘Chicago Code’ (NBC, 2011)

You can probably tell from the title that this is a TV series like ‘Chicago P.D.’.  But if you look close there are some specific and entertaining differences. The show focus on a unit of officers dedicated to curbing the high number of dirty cops in the department.

The crew of ‘Chicago Code’ includes a veteran Chicago Police Detective named Jarek Wysocki who leads the special unit fighting against the corruption running rampant in the department. Jarek is set upon this task by the first-female Chicago Police Superintendent, his one-time partner, and Teresa Colvin.

The cops working under Jarek  include officer Caleb Evers, a young detective by the name of Vonda Wysocki (Jarek’s niece), Vonda’s partner Isaac Joiner,  and undercover officer Chris Collier who happens to be deep undercover in the Irish Mob.

Similarity Match: 95%
‘Chicago Code’ gives me feeling of the inner workings and the darker side of policing in Chicago but it is focused more on the police and fight internal corruption.

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‘Law & Order SVU’ (NBC, 1999- )

‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ has become a phenomenon all its own and is part of the reason that show like ‘Chicago PD’ even exist in the first place. The show itself is a spin-off of the popular ‘Law & Order’ series that was on the air long enough that Ice-T had an entire career revival and reality TV show while it aired.

This version of the show covers crimes that are typically sexual in nature that ultimately makes the audience hate the offenders so much that the tactics used by the main cast could be forgiven. Part of what I find charming about the SVU is that they do things by the book, even though some of the worst perps seem break a lot of bones “accidentally”. Just clumsy I guess.

Similarity Match: 90%
This show may take place outside of the Chicago but the way that it’s paced, and the way each case reaches into the lives of the characters makes these two shows very similar.

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‘Southland’ (ABC, 2009-2013)

Moving even further away from Chicago, I head over to Los Angeles, California for ‘Southland’, a show that is more about capturing the real experience of policing in the largest city in the sunshine state than any crime of the week narrative. As in all the greatest shows like ‘Chicago PD’, ‘Southland’ attempts to tell a story where the community and the city are as much a part of the narrative as the main characters.

But don’t expect any trips to muscle beach where the two characters find time to relax; this is a darker show than I expected might think. The action follows three characters: Detective Lydia Adams a hard-nosed and focused woman and my personal favorite, a rookie beat cop Ben Sherman and his closeted gay training officer, John Cooper.

Unlike most cop shows the crimes are not solved neatly in an episode (or two, for that matter), and the cost of doing the right things causes ripple effects throughout the officer’s lives and the lives of the people they protect.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Southland’ may take place in Los Angeles, and there is no task force to ground the narrative, but I think the conflict, drama, action, and the raw nature of the tone make it a great pairing for ‘Chicago P.D.’.

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If You Like ‘Chicago P.D.’, You Will Like…

These next two series are different from ‘Chicago P.D.’ as the first looks at the city from the firefighter’s perspective, and the second looks at New York Police officers in a completely noble, if biased way. However, they still try to look at the people beyond the job.

‘Chicago Fire’ (NBC, 2012- )

Not every crime drama focuses on the police. Even though TV shows similar to ‘Chicago P.D.’ cover the cases that make the headlines, I often wonder who puts out the fires. Who is making sure that the trees of Chicago are not lousy with cats? That’s where the Show ‘Chicago Fire’ comes in (aside from the cat thing – that’s a myth, I checked).

The show does a good job of depicting a specific part of Chicago’s heritage as it follows the personal and professional lives of members of the Chicago fire department, including the death of one of their own, and betrayals in the ranks.

Existing in the same universe as ‘Chicago P.D.’, ‘Chicago Fire’ brings to light a shady underbelly of the city in a brutal honest way concerning the would-be saviors who keep it from burning to the ground.

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‘Blue Bloods’ (CBS, 2011- )

Moving away from Chicago and back to what I consider the first city of police procedural drama, the show ‘Blue Bloods’ covers the intricacies of the New York police department. The difference between this show and the other TV shows like ‘Chicago P.D.’ is that ‘Blue Bloods’ follows a family of cops with a heritage deeply invested in the criminal justice system.

The family is led by the patriarch “Frank” Reagan played by Tom Selleck and his amazing mustache (look at it), who is also the New York City police commissioner.

In ‘Blue Bloods’ the cops, especially those with the last name Reagan, are handled like chivalric knights, pristine and above reproach while everyone else, like the citizens and the politicians are terrible, terrible monster people.

‘Blue Bloods’ is a show that sets out to capture the city in the same way as ‘Chicago P.D.’, but there is an effort to put the police in the best possible light, which I find a bit distracting from the story.

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A Chicago Story

‘Chicago P.D.’ is an attempt to capture every facet of a very complicated job and city.

Can you learn anything about a city from how its police behave?

Let me know in the comments down below.

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