The Rookie seeks to challenge the status quo of cop shows when it returns for its its third season in January.
During a panel with ABC7’s Mark Brown, creator Alexi Hawley teased what’s to come in the new season and explained how the show will incorporate the ongoing conversations about police brutality sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd in May. Hawley, joined by members of The Rookie cast and writing team, explained that the current social climate heavily influenced the upcoming plotlines.
“It gave us a rare opportunity to really get into a lot of different topics. To talk about so many different aspects of policing – from stuff that happens on the streets to the stuff that happens on the stations, warts and all of the LAPD and policing in general, how hard it is to fire a bad cop, to make change in the system.”
Season three of The Rookie, starring Nathan Fillion, Mekia Cox, Titus Makina Jr. and Richard T. Jones, will see the members of the fictional LAPD team deal with issues that are far from make-believe. To help bring informative, yet entertaining, storylines about policing and race to the silver screen The Rookie team enlisted Arisha Hatch of Color of Change, a team of activists committed to advocating for justice for Black people.
Hatch noted that despite the historic popularity of cop shows in the television industry, such programs never touch on issues about police brutality and misuse of authority, skewing the perception of the profession.
“Conversations about racism or racism didn’t exist in those universes,” Hatch said.
In addition to Hatch’s experience fighting for victims of police brutality and members of the Black community, writer Fredrick Kotto said he tapped into his time as a police sergeant to inform The Rookie‘s authentic conversations about policing.
Kotto, who served as a police sergeant for the City of San José for nearly twenty years, said that the new conversations about race and policing in The Rookie will offer viewers “something they’ve never seen before.” Season three will not only look at the issues of police brutality, but the inner workings that lead to such issues, like the internal affairs dynamics.
“Part of what is coming out now is that you can’t truly be a good cop if you’re not doing anything to deal with the bad cops,” Kotto said.
He also explained that while the writing team has a great amount of power in directing the new season, getting the message across also falls on the actors. Cox and Maken said that the newest season has made them reflect on the particular role they have as Black actors playing police officers.
Maken, who stars as Jackson West, acknowledged that as a star of a television series that reaches viewers nationwide and even beyond, he has a responsibility to change the kind of cops normalized by the medium. With personal experience, input from organizations like the Color of Change and the full backing of a studio as large as ABC, The Rookie has “the tools to educate generations to come,” he noted.
“[The new season]. gave me hope. I’m in this generation and I was terrified to play a cop and this show is the answer,” Maken said. “I’ve yearned for years, watching these shows and movies, to see cops dealing with cops. The undertaking of this season makes me so emotional because I’m proud of it.”
Season 3 of The Rookie premieres on Jan. 3 from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on ABC. The Rookie, produced by eOne and ABC Studios, is executive produced by Hawley, Fillion, Winter, Mark Gordon, Michelle Chapman, Jon Steinberg and Bill Norcross.
Watch highlights from the panel above.