Originally Posted by Hunter Rider
What does that mean?
It's a term basically I invented to separate different kinds of law enforcement shows, like The Shield, The Wire, NYPD Blue and Homicide: Life on the Street on one side of the spectrum, and then shows like NCIS, The Mentalist, Cold Case and Criminal Minds on the other.
At the purely high-level, plot-summary perspective, shows from both camps deal with the same horrific subject matter. But shows in the latter category give it a much lighter touch, with morally upright protaganists with sitcom-style personal problems, and the relatively serious nature of the crimes they investigate given a much more entertaining gloss than the grittier and more realistic-seeming crime shows.
I call it "suburban justice" because it essentially targets the sheltered, judgmental audience who generally lives in good neighbourhoods, who want to feel like they're watching something cool and edgy, but that doesn't scare them, challenge their values or alter their world view.
That makes me sound like a pretentious d-bag, I'll admit, so I will also add that I am a fan of The Mentalist and Leverage, so I think there's room for both types of shows.