What it is: Similar to the earnest ensemble, but with a harder edge, more world-weary characters and occasional bursts of salty language. Critics are required by law to use the word "gritty" in describing them. Current example: Not much on the air right now. The most recent good example was "The Wire," HBO's brilliant examination of cops and dealers in Baltimore. Classics: "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue," a pair of Steven Bochco-created series that helped define the harder-edged drama ("Hill Street") and then advanced the form even more ("NYPD Blue"). Others: "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Big Apple," "Crime Story"
Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times