The long-running reality TV show Cops, which was getting ready to head into its 33rd season, has been officially canceled, as protests against racism and police brutality continue to grow around the world.
According to Entertainment Weekly, a Paramount Network spokesperson recently confirmed the show’s cancellation.
“Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” the spokesperson said.
Despite being a staple of cable television for decades, the show has been a source of controversy since the mid-1990s, when it was revealed that there was an extreme racial bias in the programming.
A 1994 study from Old Dominion University found that an overwhelming majority of the suspects represented in the show were people of color, while the vast majority of the police officers were white. Analysis of actual crime statistics showed that people of color appeared on the program at an unnaturally high rate, which gave the impression that they were perpetrators of crimes more often than they actually were in reality.
After the study was published, the show’s creators promised to address the racial disparities in the programming, but ten years later, in 2004, additional research found that these misrepresentations were still there. Furthermore, the researchers found that the show also created an unrealistic image of police officers, by editing out their failures or cases where they needlessly violated someone’s rights. The show has also been criticized for its representation of the poor, and the lack of attention paid to more affluent criminals.
Now that the mainstream culture is becoming more aware of the problems in policing, the show seems to have finally worn out its welcome, after over 1,100 episodes and 32 seasons. The future is also uncertain for the show Live PD, a successor to Cops which appears on A&E. According to THR, A&E pulled last week’s episodes of Live PD and there is no clear indication when or if the next episode will air, although the network is promising that it will be back at some point.
As protests continue to grow, more people are beginning to question their previously held beliefs about the police and their role in society. An interesting Vulture Op-Ed earlier this month pointed out that American television schedules are filled with a non-stop cycle of countless television shows in which the police are always the protagonists. However, this type of programming could become a thing of the past as the public’s attitudes continue to evolve.
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Image Credit: Cops