The Black Lives Matter movement has greatly affected ABC’s The Rookie. This is in large part thanks to one of BLM’s partners, Color of Change, which released a “rather damning” 153-page report on racial injustice in cop shows.
The third season, which premiered January 3, has focused on the privilege and racism of cops, the latter especially personified through a new character, Officer Doug Stanton (Brandon Routh).
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Titus Makin Jr., who plays Officer Jackson West (pictured), Stanton's rookie on the show, revealed that plotline will continue and spoke about his personal feelings on playing a police officer on tv.
Makin claimed he realized, “I’ve been complacent” following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “I woke up one morning and I was watching the news, and I was like, 'I can't do this. I can't go play a cop on a show and not talk about the fact that I'm a Black cop.' My character hadn't addressed any of that,” he told EW.
He even "really struggled with coming back to the show in light of everything that happened in 2020" and explained:
It was a bit of a bigger situation than I was able to fully describe at that time. Because it starts back for me, even just playing a cop in the first place, which was a hurdle [with] where I'm from and how I viewed the cops growing up. To play one, I already was wrestling with, "Oh man, people are gonna think I'm Team Cops." And the reality was I was struggling.
The actor said he “would rather be written out than ignore the reality and not be able to tell the story." At least their version of "reality." Of course, we know that The Rookie fulled embraced the BLM narrative and Makin is on board.
It came out most prominently in an intense scene in January 17's episode, “La Fiera," where West's superior, Officer Stanton, physically assaulted an innocent young black man who did not match the description of their suspect, then threatened to arrest the man's entire family at gunpoint for trying to intervene, while West called for a supervisor.
Makin said he “was actually on the side of the family” which called West “this fake-ass brother” and an “Uncle Tom sellout." The actor claimed that his "exact fear is something like that...to be not understood for the choices I'm making, even by being on a cop show in general.”
Makin described his emotions shooting the scene:
It was so surreal. It was a really bizarre juxtaposition there where I was trying to do my job, but also extremely defeated where I was like, "This is the reality. This could be me tomorrow in a situation like this. This could be me tonight in a situation like this — just from the color of my skin." But then on the flip side, I was extremely proud that we were tackling this issue and letting people see the reality of what happens way more often than what we just see in the news. This is a daily thing. I'm happy that we're finally willing to tackle the reality like this.
The word “reality” appears in the article twelve times. It’s a very particular reality, and one which the show expects audiences to believe, no matter how over-the-top and melodramatic it gets.
Reminding viewers once more of the “silence is complicity” line from Sunday’s episode, Makin said it is “a beautiful message to send.” Right or wrong, if BLM has its way, the only “reality” viewers will know about will be the one-sided one shows like The Rookie create.