TV Review: “Gang Related” – Slow Start, But Worth It

Written by Emily Stewart June 15, 2014

 Gang Related

“Gang Related” takes a while to enjoy. The drama had potential from the beginning, and the action scenes are great. However, like any drama, the plot stretches on quite a bit between the intense and interesting scenes. I know that it’s typical for an episode to run for at least 45 minutes without commercial breaks. Still, I was waiting for something exciting to happen during the first few episodes of the series. Regardless, “Gang Related” picked up nicely, and I looked forward to watching its development.

Retracing Footsteps

“Gang Related” establishes that Ryan (Ramon Rodriguez) has an affiliation with a gang from the get go. The show begins with a flashback showing he and the Acosta brothers have been involved since they were children. This scene was very well done, and added the much needed background; however, it appeared the origin hasn’t continued on too much after the premiere episode. After Carlos Acosta (Reynaldo Gallegos) is shot, there isn’t much else related to gangs which is odd considering the implication of the title. Once you get hooked into the show, though, the connections are clear.

Ramon Rodriguez of "Gang Related"

The action-filled scenes are done fantastically with lots of quick moves, suspense, and shots that capture it all. These scenes are the strength of “Gang Related”, and make watching each episode worth it. While violence is certainly one of the central aspects of the show, there are also subtle moments which imply violence rather than showing excess gore. For example, one scene features a young girl bawling her eyes out because she is a witness to her parents getting shot. The camera pans away, and a gunshot is heard afterwards. Violence on TV is generally prominent, depending on the show. It’s gotten to the point now where subtle hints of violence are even more frightening than the ones that are explicitly violent. Of course, “Gang Related” has more of the latter, but they get kudos for including somewhat subtle hints here and there.

Hoping for the First Shot

The biggest downfall of “Gang Related” is that sometimes the plot stretches a bit thin. It’s a convention in TV dramas, but sometimes it’s painful to wait for something to happen. It can also be unclear how Ryan’s struggle between his loyalty to the gang and his professionalism as a cop is fully developing. The key to watching “Gang Related” is to have patience. There will be times when you want something to happen already, but the most suspenseful scenes are stitched together nicely.  Moments when Ryan and the rest of the LAPD arrive at the crime scene and start shooting are worth watching.

Ramon Rodriguez, RZA, and Inbar Lavi of "Gang Related"

“Gang Related” takes a while to appreciate, but it’s definitely something worth the watch. The concept is interesting and has potential to develop throughout the season. The action scenes are the best part of the show, and make up for a sometimes over-serialized narrative. I look forward to seeing what happens when the two sides of Ryan’s life end up converging. Regardless of if it ends well, it’s something to anticipate for the finale.

My Rating: 7/10


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About Emily Stewart

Emily is a Media, Information and Technoculture student at Western University who likes to put her critical thinking skills and passion for writing to good use, including reviewing TV shows for We Eat Films.

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