As the world stands up to police brutality and systemic racism, police procedural TV shows have come under fresh scrutiny for their lopsided depiction of the criminal justice system
People love to watch crime and thriller based films and television shows.
A cop show usually focuses on policemen whose car chases and action-packed moves magnify the show's excitement, drama and thrill – drawing in large audiences.
However, the recent police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others sparked worldwide protests and as the world takes a stand against police brutality and systemic racism, police procedural TV shows have come under fresh scrutiny for their lopsided depiction of the criminal justice system.
After the George Floyd murder protests gained momentum, renowned networks pulled police procedural shows such as "Cops" and "Live PD", but Americans have long been awash with such police dramas.
A slew of viral videos showing cops abusing peaceful protesters and journalists aided the cancellations.
Police procedural shows can shape the viewer's perception of reality, influencing millions in developing perceptions about the criminal justice system.
This affinity between the entertainment industry and police departments has been growing for decades.
Beginning in the 1930s, law enforcement agencies in America worked closely with media producers in order to brush up their public image while steering showrunners in the direction of "good guy" portrayals.
For FBI director J Edgar Hoover, police served a primary role: to protect a "vigorous, intelligent, old-fashioned Americanism" that was threatened by what he saw as unreasonable demands for civil rights and liberties.
He was so adamant on reflecting his vision of "Americanism" that he hired agents who fit the mold of ideal policemen: white, Christian and tall, without any "physical defects" like baldness, impaired vision and "foreign" accents.
"Cops" ran for more than 30 years and some critics said that the show only pushed an overly positive image of cops.
Although it is unlikely that networks will cancel all cop-related shows, critics argue that it would be fitting to reimagine the ways the police are portrayed.
"Orange Is the New Black" - a show where prison inmates are the protagonists, and "Watchmen" - which examines police brutality and white supremacy, are examples of what cop shows can be like.
The closest thing to a reformist police show right now is "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a sitcom that alternates explorations of the policies and identity politics of the New York Police Department with gags and one-liners.
There are many shows that glorify cops, normalise racism and injustice in the criminal justice system and skew viewers' perceptions of what constitutes police brutality - pointing to an unfair balance in most shows, where cops are the only heroes with the longevity of a handful of episodes.
Critics also argue that a lack of diversity in writers' rooms makes it difficult to accurately pen down stories about race and police.
Time up for police dramas?
For far too long, cops have been overrepresented in the media. In 1968, a study from the Kerner Commission explored the causes of uprisings in black communities.
The report noted that within the communities, there was a longstanding awareness that "the press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men's eyes and white perspective."
Numerous police procedural shows glorify the police but refuse to bring forth the deep level of police violence and use of excessive force on civilians who are either innocent or have committed petty crimes, while overshadowing major criminal offences committed by the majority community.
Bringing a change to this perspective requires more than recognising the role police dramas have played as propaganda for law enforcement.
For the enablers, it means to hold themselves accountable for the legacy of stories that paint over police misconduct and violence, which disproportionately affect people of colour.