As protests against law enforcement and racial violence continue, networks have decided to cancel two long-running and wildly popular police reality shows. “Cops” and “Live PD” will no longer air on their former networks.
The move comes less than a week after A&E and the Paramount Network announced plans to put the series on temporary hold.
After more than 30 years, “Cops” is finally off the air. The long-running police reality show has aired on multiple networks since 1989. But now, unless another network decides to give the show another chance, “Cops” is canceled forever.
The Paramount Network temporarily suspended airing episodes and delayed the premiere of season 33. The network has now decided to cancel the show completely.
An investigative report by NBC News claims that “Cops” functioned as pro-police propaganda, which portrayed a world that was far more dangerous and crime-riddled than reality. At the time it premiered in 1989, public confidence in law enforcement was at an all-time low. They also criticized the depiction of the tactics used on the show as being irresponsible or even illegal.
Before canceling the show, “Live PD” was A&E’s top-rated series. “This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD,” A&E wrote in a statement released on Wednesday. “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them.”
However, there may be more to the story than simple optics during the protests.
A Texas newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, reported that “Live PD” received–and later destroyed–shocking footage of police brutality. We know that Javier Ambler died while in police custody. The video footage allegedly shows police officers tasing Ambler to death while he pleads for mercy.
For his part, “Live PD” host Dan Abrams has been expressing his outrage over the cancellation on Twitter.
What role should law enforcement stories play in pop culture? Should we draw the line between reality shows like “Cops” and scripted TV series like “Law & Order” or “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Eric Trump (yes, that Eric Trump) tweeted that “the left wants to cancel ‘Paw Patrol.’ These people are truly insane…” He seems to be referring to a New York Times piece with a tongue-in-cheek headline about the kids’ police dog cartoon.
“Paw Patrol” isn’t going anywhere–but neither is the discussion about how police are often glorified in movies and TV shows.