Cops, the reality TV show, has been canceled

Paramount Network cancels the long-running show, which premiered 31 years ago.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

The long-running reality TV show has been canceled.

Paramount Network

Paramount Network has canceled Cops, the long-running reality TV series, ahead of a 33rd season scheduled to premiere June 15. (Disclosure: Paramount Network is owned by ViacomCBS, the parent company of CNET.)

"'Cops' is not on the Paramount Network, and we don't have any current or future plans for it to return," a spokeswoman for the network said.

The show, which premiered 31 years ago on Fox  in 1989, had recently been pulled from Paramount's scheduling in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died two weeks ago while in police custody.

Fox canceled Cops in 2013, after a campaign from civil rights group Color of Change urged the network to drop the show.

Color of Change said the network, the show's producers and the advertisers "have built a profit model around distorted and dehumanizing portrayals of black Americans and the criminal justice system" (via The New York Times).

It also said that the show "offers a highly filtered version of crime and the criminal justice system -- a 'reality' where the police are always competent, crime-solving heroes and where the bad boys always get caught."

A few months after the show's cancellation in March 2013, Paramount Network, then known as Spike TV, picked it up that May. The show marked its 1,000th episode in 2017.

"This is the right move, and I want to give Paramount credit for being one of the first," Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said in response to the recent cancellation. "We want to see more."

"These cop reality shows that glorify police but will never show the deep level of police violence are not reality, they are PR arms for law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn't need PR," Robinson said. "They need accountability in this country."

Color of Change tweeted Tuesday: "Crime TV plays a significant role in advancing distorted representations of crime, justice, race & gender within culture & Cops led the way, pushing troubling implications for generations of viewers."

The organization continued: "Crime shows like Cops have a huge influence over the way the public thinks about criminal justice and by misrepresenting this system, these shows turn people against overdue reform efforts."

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