We are on the eve of Fox’s new drama series, Shots Fired. The new 10-part series that covers the killing of an unarmed 22-year-old at the hands of police and a community on the hunt for answers. Obviously this is an issue that has strongly captured the attention of Americans in the past few years. Violence at the hands of police has been at the centre of grassroots movements like Black Lives Matter and in the centre of our national presidential debates. It makes sense that producers would feel inspired to bring this conversation to television. But I’m on the fence about it and am still debating whether or not I’ll be tuning in.
First of all, this series feels like it came about too soon. The violence that communities of colour experience at the hands of police has not been eradicated. In fact, we are currently living under an administration that thinks police, and not the communities who have to live under their jurisdictions, who need protecting. Meanwhile, the families of people slain by police are still mourning and the communities are still trying to recover.
Not to mention, it’s already extremely triggering to scroll through social media and be confronted with police violence on a regular basis. News coverage of said incidents often feels inescapable and inauthentic. That this kind of story is once again being packaged for entertainment just feels like more clickbait. These incidents have already been sensationalised enough.
And then there is the irony of a show like this being on Fox. I can’t help but feel like the same network that is known for running news that criminalises victims of police violence is trolling me. From the preview, a white guy is shot by a Black officer. The prosecutor and investigator on the case are both Black. By flipping the script (no pun intended) are the show creators adding another layer of nuance, or trying to throw us off the scent of the racial biases that negatively influence how people of colour are treated by law enforcement?
However, with Sanaa Lathan leading the cast, I’m inclined to think that Shots Fired might be worth it. It is also being co-produced by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the producer of Love & Basketball. Hopefully the show will add something meaningful to conversations about race and justice after all.