Cops is presented as a documentary on policing in America, a topic that could not be more complex and controversial, and has been broadcasting that work on TV for over 30 years now, with new episodes still airing weekly and usually drawing over a million viewers. It’s actually the longest-running reality show of all time, and since it’s in syndication, it’s sometimes on 70 times in one week. It’s been on so long that it’s become culturally ubiquitous, something a then-teenager like myself can turn on and zone out in front of.
“When you talk about things in the culture, you talk about things that are new and you talk about things that are good,” former television producer Dan Taberski told me recently over the phone. “And everything else just kind of lives on.”
Taberski’s resume includes The Daily Show and the Andrew W.K.-hosted Cartoon Network program Destroy Build Destroy, and he pivoted to podcasting a few years back. In each season of his audio documentary series, Headlong, he “explores the lives of overlooked people, moments, and events in our culture,” to quote from his website. His latest podcast, Running From Cops, is an investigation of Cops, a show Taberski has always watched “with two minds.”
I totally missed this podcast, but I have just downloaded all the episodes. It’s actually the third season of Taberski’s Headlong, the first season of which was Missing Richard Simmons.