How Much Longer?

Another killing of a a black man by police.

They finally released the body cam footage of the beating death of Tyre Nichols after days of a countdown and several warnings to protest peacefully that really did little to make anyone feel like these videos would not be horrible. Leaving alone that a countdown to the release of what amounts to a lynching is kind of sick on its own, the video sure sounds brutal. I, like a lot of people, have only read a thread on Twitter describing the videos, because I didn’t need to see yet another black man killed by police. I’ve seen Tamir Rice’s 8 second video. After that, I didn’t need to see any more, but I still saw Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s. Garner’s. Hey, maybe you know they might have been in a different order, but I really didn’t care to see more after Tamir Rice.


And I read Sherilynn Ifill’s article on her substack here:

It’s well done. And there are things in it that have given me a rather strange, roundabout way to get some ideas into the public’s consciousness. Emphasis on strange, though I will try to justify it, of course.

So this section is what really made me wonder if this was a feasible idea: “And what about the more recent, radical demand to “defund the police”? Well, that has not happened either, despite claims to the contrary. Indeed police budgets have by and large increased. But out of that demand has come a clear and widespread belief that matters such as mental health calls, youth conflicts, and homelessness are not best handled in most cases by armed law enforcement officers. A number of jurisdictions have created programs to remove some of those duties from police officers. Moreover, police budgets are receiving more scrutiny than in the past.

If we blend this idea, that we really need more community involvement, more social workers, psychologists, food kitchens, homelessness reduction, with the idea that entertainment can get some ideas into the public consciousness, is there a TV show we can create that can do this?

Support? My favorite short story is this page and a half story:

“That is the function of the storyteller.” I don’t want to say that my whole life is lived by fiction, but read the story. Storytellers have a function. And making people think of things they don’t ordinarily think about is it.

When Fonzie got a library card, people getting library cards jumped 500%. That’s just one time life mirrored TV, but there are Google searches where it happened other times. And there are probably even more searches for things that were hinted at in TV shows. Especially ones where the show tries to do things “ripped from the headlines”.

I watch and enjoy copaganda shows, I admit it. I do so by imagining in my head that the main characters are the good guys and the rest of the police aren’t. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t. I really like The Rookie, but outside of one racist cop, they have had no bad cops. It’s all police who want to do the best they can. At least L&O’s Wolf literally admitted he sees the cops as always the good guys, despite having an episode or two where they weren’t. The Rookie had Brandon Routh. in LA. One of my favorite shows is Rockford Files, and they made the cops incompetent, at least. It was mostly detectives Rockford dealt with, so there wasn’t much chance to show them killing people. Adam-12 and Dragnet were in their own spheres of copaganda, really.

So, yes. I am literally suggesting a new type of “cop show”. One where the cops are the buffoons, the twits who just reflexively respond as the current police do. Where the new mayor somehow got elected despite saying they clearly wanted to try policing a new way. I don’t think a TV show would sell if the police were actively evil except in very specific circumstances. Like, you wouldn’t get the idea of social workers and working on homelessness will make things better with evil cops. How long did Carter Country run? It may not have been perfect, but it tried, right? Am I remembering it wrongly?

I don’t know whether it should be a half hour “comedy” — they aren’t all sitcoms, some are tough to describe. Maybe you could make an hour “dramady” with a good writers’ room. The comedy idea probably lends itself to mocking people who shouldn’t be mocked, but it might be a lower entry point for the idea that the police aren’t really there to protect and serve. I just know that a pure drama isn’t going to get it into a big enough audience.

Again, I know it’s a weird idea. People are out there dying. Horribly. But people read/watch TV/watch movies for a reason. This isn’t going to change overnight. If you can get an idea into even a skeptics head about how well a social worker can keep someone from being killed while making a TV show, maybe they think about that when voting. This shit isn’t changing overnight, as much as it needs to. I’m just thinking of one more tool.

So, yes. I give this to any TV writer who can make it work. No money, unless you get more than three seasons out of it without making the cops any kind of competent. Then we’ll talk. Maybe a “Consultant” credit, but really, make Sherilynn Ifill and Bree Newsome consulting producers and you might have a good show that says something.

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