One of the issues to come out of the national conversation that followed George Floyd's murder earlier this year was the role that films and TV shows play in glamorizing cops who break the law or do things the wrong way to "get results."
In the above featurette previewing the Season 3 return of ABC's The Rookie, the show's cast and crew discuss how they're attempting to re-write the rules of the police procedural playbook to better address systemic racism in the coming season.
"When I created the show a few years ago, it was important to me that the show be aspirational in nature, to show an inclusive cast of actors who looked and felt like Los Angeles going out there to do the job the right way," executive producer Alexi Hawley explains. "But coming into Season 3, it definitely felt like we really needed to honor the conversations that were going on in the wake of George Floyd's death by digging into some of these bigger issues."
One of the changes they're making is to bring on Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow) as a "polarizing" officer. Casting a former Superman in this kind of role is an interesting choice, playing against type to contrast the image of the police officer as hero against the reality.
Executive producer and series star Nathan Fillion says "we want to humanize this job. We want to honor the job, but at the same time show you that these are actual people, real-life people, struggling with real-life issues."
The showrunners have also brought on consultants to help guide them through this process of achieving that balance.
"I truly believe that the work they've been putting together and we've all been collaborating with really can change the way of the dynamic of the social unrest that's been going on in our country," says Ryan Tillman, founder of Breaking Barriers United.
"This is a show that is actually trying to figure out its role in this conversation about reimagining the ways in which police officers interact with black communities," addsArisha Hatch, Vice President of Color of Change.
"I'm in this generation, and I was terrified to play a cop," actor Titus Makin Jr. admits. "But watching the show, things we're tackling this season, it gave me hope."
"This whole situation is extremely complicated. We don't have all the answers," says Mekia Cox. "We are still seeking and looking for those solutions, and I think you can see that in the show."
The Rookie returns Sunday, January 3, on ABC.
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Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.