Fox Nation revives the controversial reality series 'Cops'

After a year-long retirement, the divisive reality series Cops is returning to television next month — and controversy is guaranteed to follow. The streaming service Fox Nation, a spin-off of Fox News, announced an Oct. 1 premiere date for Season 33 of the long-running show, with four episodes premiering that day followed by a new episode every Friday. Fox Nation also announced that first responders will receive a free one-year subscription starting Sept. 13, and the service will donate $5 to the benefit fund Answer the Call on behalf of each new subscriber from Sept. 13 to 20, with a maximum donation of $50,000. 

In a press release announcing the show's return, Fox Nation president Jason Klarman remarked: "Cops is one of the most iconic brands on television with an incredibly passionate fan base. We wanted to show our appreciation to all first responders by combining the launch with a free one-year subscription to give back in a small way to those who place their lives on the line every day to keep us safe."

Launched on the nascent Fox network in 1989 by creators John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, Cops was quickly cancelled last summer in the wake of George Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, including Derek Chauvin. (Chauvin was later found guilty of murder and is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence.) The months-long Black Lives Matter protests that followed brought a renewed scrutiny to the depictions of police officers seen in both reality and scripted programming. The Paramount Network, which acquired Cops in 2013, quickly announced its cancellation in the wake of the controversy at the same time that A&E did away with its equally divisive reality series, Live P.D.

Paramount's move to cancel Cops was greeted with praise by those who believe the series celebrated and reinforced troubling behavior within police departments around the country. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment in February, filmmaker Deirdre Fishel — whose documentary, Women in Blue, profiled some of the female officers serving on the Minneapolis force — described the "toxic" legacy of Cops. "It showcased a very aggressive approach," Fishel remarked. "To have some young kid watching Cops and think, ‘Wow, that’s what being a police officer is,” means you’ll get someone who is attracted to policing because of those interactions." 

The Cops revival will anchor a new slate of Fox Nation reality series and specials based around first responders, including 911: On Scene, When Seconds Count, Protect and Serve and Answer the Call. According to the Los Angeles Times, some of the Season 33 episodes were filmed at the same time that Paramount decided to cancel the show. “I can’t speak to a larger cultural movement that was happening at the time [of its cancellation]," Klarman told the newspaper about the network's decision to revive the show in the face of anticipated protests. "I think the content stands on its own. It’s a very compelling show for people who are interested in following the lives of police officers." 

Cops premieres Oct. 1 on Fox Nation.

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