Sunday Discussion Stuff

Sunday Discussion: The Truth Behind The TV Show Cops


Cops is one of the longest running TV shows, and it has inspired the very popular Live PD as well.

When it premiered, “Cops” was one of the first reality television shows and it has been broadcasting continuously since 1989. In this video, we worked with the podcast “Running From Cops” to understand why the show has stayed on TV for so long. At the time it was selected for development by Fox executive Stephen Chao, the writer’s strike of 1988 had created a desire for unscripted television that didn’t require hiring union talent.

But once “Cops” was on the air, it was the vision of “Cops” creator John Langley that would make the show last. He understood that the show presented a new opportunity for law enforcement agencies and it was his approach to making “Cops” that has kept police interested in appearing on the show. While “Cops” no longer has the high TV ratings it garnered during the nineties, it has been a persistent presence on television and it has spawned several imitators, including the very popular show “Live PD”.

Like “Cops”, these shows use variations of a reality format developed by “Cops” that features police performing their daily duties. The stripped-down format has remained nearly the same since the show began in 1989 and during the thirty years since “Cops” has had the same agreement with police that agree to appear on the reality show.

To learn what that agreement is, make sure to watch the video below.

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