COPS reality TV show has been cancelled.
Courtesy Paramount Network
When a writers’ strike paralyzed the television industry in the late 1980s, networks were forced to find new, alternative programs to fill its air.
That’s how “Cops” found a home on Fox Television. The low budget program, which had no union writers, was a welcome solution — and it ran for 32 seasons. That is until earlier this week.
Now owned by ViacomCBS, “Cops” was canceled in the wake of of protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
The show has long been criticized for its depiction of police interactions with criminal suspects, but high ratings kept the show running and even inspired other networks to create reality TV shows featuring cops. A&E’s “Live P.D.,” one of the highest-rated shows on cable, has also been canceled.
“As an early reality program, it came across to people as raw documentary,” said Jack Bratich, associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. “Nowadays audiences are more savvy about how reality programming is produced, edited and staged. Viewers are aware of how programs present perspectives and invite audiences to identify with those perspectives.”
The appeal of “Cops,” and other shows like it, was the idea that it was an unfiltered look at what police face everyday while on the job. However, this lens was more filtered than most audiences were aware of at the time of its inception and, as the program gained popularity, it began to reinforce racial stereotypes about the Black community.
The reality of ‘Cops’