Hollywood 2020: Call for Changes in Portrayal of Police and Law Officers

As anti-police brutality and anti-racism protests continue to occur nationwide, Trevor Noah highlighted the violence-heavy portrayals of police and law-enforcement officers on TV.

Comedy Central


“Believe it or not, watching cop shows makes a lot of people see the police as infallible,” Noah said. “And honestly, I don’t blame any of these people. I’ll admit a lot of my perceptions about reality has been shaped by TV, as well.”

On Thursday night’s episode, The Daily Show host shared a video compilation showcasing on-screen cops using brute force towards suspected criminals in shows including NCIS: Los Angeles, Law & Order: SVU and Bones. The clips show the law officials slapping, punching and kicking those in their custody or threatening to harm them until they confess to the crime.

Noah continued the segment pointing out that no other group of professionals is portrayed as behaving so violently. He also said that shows make it seem that the police officers have reasons to threaten and beat their criminals.

“TV is a powerful tool that shapes how the public sees the police,” the late-night host said. “[It] shapes how the public sees the police’s role in society and how accountable they should be.”

Before bringing the segment to a close, Noah shared one last video. But instead of violent footage from Hollywood shows, he shared a clip of a real-life example of police brutality, saying “when rogue cops throw away the rule book…it doesn’t look cool like in one of the TV shows.”

The late-night host brought the segment to a close by calling on Hollywood to reflect on and consider changing how they portray cops and law-enforcement officers on their shows.

“To all those show creators, directors and writers in Hollywood who make these cop shows and have been tweeting that something needs to be done about the police, well, one way you can help make a difference is if you do something about the police on screen,” Noah said.