Why Cops Is Filming Episodes Again Despite Being Cancelled

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In early June, the long-running reality show Cops was cancelled by Paramount Network after a whopping 32 seasons on the air. There had been a planned Season 33, but the June 8 premiere was pulled following nationwide protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement. Now, though, the show is actually back in production despite its U.S. cancellation, so that it can fulfill commitments in international territories.

According to a statement from the sherrif's office in Spokane County, Washington, Cops began filming there recently, and it's a location which has been used for the series several times previously. Two crews from the show started filming in the area in September, and are expected to stay through early November. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the new footage which is being taped, however, will not be broadcast in the United States, but only in the international territories where the show still airs.

Cops was able to maintain its popularity across the decades despite the sometimes controversial subject matter which was shown. The series filmed around the country and followed several police departments and sheriff's deputies (often backed by state troopers or other state law enforcement officials) as they went out on service calls and patrolled their districts. One of the things many viewers enjoyed about the series was the cinéma vérité style it was presented in, which offered no narration, additional music, sound effects or dialogue, and depended solely on the comments of the officers who were being followed and the subjects they interacted with.

When the Season 33 premiere of Cops was pulled from Paramount Network's schedule, the writing was pretty much on the wall for the series. All mentions of the show were quickly removed from the network's website, and past episodes were also taken down, or their airings pre-empted.

The call for police reform and social changes with regards to law enforcement, the legal system in general and all systemic forms of racism have led to many changes across the television landscape this year. A&E also pulled its police-focused hit reality series, Live PD, from air around the same time that the Cops premiere was shelved. Within days, the show was cancelled, mostly due to reports that the show filmed the in-custody death of Javier Ambler in March 2019. While that incident wasn't highly publicized at the time, new reports brought it to light, and the crew came under more scrutiny once it was found that they had also deleted that footage.

Shows that placed the focus on actual law enforcement haven't been the only ones impacted, either, as even scripted series have decided to implement some major changes for upcoming seasons. While this has been especially obvious for hour-long dramas like Law & Order: SVU (and its upcoming spinoff Law & Order: Organized Crime), S.W.A.T. and all of the CBS series which deal with the legal system, even the popular cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had to shift focus on its next season in order to address social issues.

While Cops won't be coming back for American audiences, if you miss the show, it is streaming on Pluto TV, where there's a dedicated channel for past episodes. For more on what to watch in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our guide to fall TV.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.