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America’s Complicated Relationship with the TV Show ‘Cops’

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Guest Post by Limus Woods

The longest running TV reality show in history, Cops, was permanently cancelled a few weeks ago amid the many protests across the country against police brutality. A spokesperson from Paramount said that they don’t have any plans to bring it back at all, and that after 33 seasons and 1,100 episodes (with seemingly no signs of slowing down) Morgan and John Langley’s program about days in the lives of real street police officers has come to an end.

Many people across the country, especially certain Black Civil Rights groups, couldn’t be happier. For example, the New York Times recently reported how one of these groups, Colors of Change, tried their hardest to get Fox network and advertisers for the show to withdraw support and cancel it back in 2013. Rashad Robinson, the group’s Executive Director, feels that the show “glorified police” but never showed what really happens when it comes to actual police brutality in America, especially against its Black and Brown citizens.

As an African-American man, I understand why they took the show off the air for good. And, I’m proud that the network is making this type of response to let the public know that they are aware of the very necessary changes that need to be made our Criminal Justice System. Still, I’m also smart enough to realize that even with all this horrible brutality that’s currently going on in this country, every single cop in the world is not a bad one. Hell, Cops has been on TV since I was seven years old, and there have been plenty of times over the years when I’ve truly enjoyed the show, LMFAO!

I’m of course not the only one, and everyone who’s ever told a joke about the show proves me right. For example, African-American comedian Mike Epps did one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard about a police officer chasing a guy down on the show. He started shuffling his hands across the mic as he told the joke, simulating how the audio actually sounds on TV when they’re running after a suspect. When they finally catch him, Mike hilariously impersonated how the officer always asks that same question, and how the suspect responds:

Officer: Why’d you run?! (panting and out of breath) Why’d you run from me!?

Suspect: I was scared! I ain’t know why y’all was chasing me!!


A classic Cops scene. And, it’s not always a Black guy, as African-American comedian Tommy Davidson pointed out in his stand-up routine during Shaq’s All-Star Weekend Comedy Special. “You ever watch Cops?”, he asks the audience. “That’s my favorite f****** show! I think Cops is highest rated among Black people. You see a group of Black people watching cops, you’ll think they’re watching the football game. They be like ‘Wooo! Get his ass!’ I ain’t never seen so many White people get arrested in my f****** life! White men running from the police… I’m taping this s***!”

He went on to joke about this White guy who was so drunk that when the police asked him to say his ABCs, he started trying to change the subject by singing the song ‘Bartender’ by T-Pain.

Still, the two African-American American men who probably made the most money off of something that was, in my opinion, sort of influenced by the show Cops are Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. They once again proved how, from now until the end of time, when you hear the song ‘Bad Boys’ by the Jamaican reggae group Inner Circle, your mind will always automatically think about the police reality show that ran over three decades. By the way, you’re going to have to actually listen to the song if you really want to know all the lyrics. Please don’t depend on Martin’s character “Marcus” for them, and if you’ve ever seen the movie Bad Boys you know why.

The first Bad Boys was released in April of 1995. According to sources, it made $15.5 million its opening weekend. Bad Boys II hit theaters eight years later during the summer of 2003, and it generated $46.5 million its opening weekend. Then, after almost seventeen years, these two powerhouse actors decided to team up again, and in early 2020 Bad Boys for Life hit the big screen. This movie made more opening weekend than both of the previous ones combined – over $62.5 million.

The show Cops grew to become something that was almost natural background noise (sort of like the fictional cop show Law & Order is) inside millions of homes across America for decades. Whether you liked the show or not, I’ll make a prediction that they’ll have all those episodes on a streaming service soon.

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