What is "copanganda," and how did these shows emerge?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/07/what-is-copanganda-and-how-did-these-shows-emerge.html


And while we’re at it, Barry Manilow should pay reparations for getting that song stuck in my head.


Cop shows seem to also fall into a wider (or narrower) type of episodic show formula with these elements:

  1. Recurring characters
  2. reason for short term characters to cycle in and out each week
  3. reason for new problem to pop up and be solved each week

This usually means new people coming to the main characters each week, or they go somewhere new each week.

Cop, lawyer, and medical shows fit the first perfectly. That’s what those jobs entail, so it’s easy to write scripts. Pure laziness. Every once in a while you get something creative (using the term loosely) like Love Boat, but it’s the same idea.

The second nets us stuff like Star Trek,A-Team, etc. Those require a premise for moving constantly, so are less common, but often more memorable.



Why aren’t there more fire service shows? The only ones I can think of are London’s Burning and, um, Trumpton and Fireman Sam.


I think for a while there was a show about Chicago firefighters? Apparently it’s still on?

I guess it’s part of the Dick Wolf-a-verse?


Denis Leary got to play dress-up for quite a while.

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There was Steel River Blues, not only about a rarely-covered profession, but also in a rare place, the frankly miserable town of Middlesbrough.

More costly to produce than pretending to shoot someone.

And to everyone listing them off don’t forget the 70’s classic: Emergency!

They should make more like High Sierra.


Normally in a movie with cops they’re potrayed as the good guys, even if they are a bit wrestling-prone

Or are complete idiots (and in this one normally reality ensues)

I don’t like very much US made police procedurals, I prefer European ones, like Midsomer Murders, or Siska, or Montalbano. I feel that there are some cultural and production differences that make me easily lose the suspension of disbelief on American cop serials.

For Gen Y and Gen Z, the Barry Manilow song is Copacabana.

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The American cop show/movie has replaced westerns. It seems kind of trivial to say it, when characters explicitly refer to the archetypes of sheriff & cowboy (“Yippe-ki-yay, motherfucker.”) It gives Americans someone to identify with: A brave, skillful, dangerous, masculine, not overly educated, morally upright, protector of the innocent against the savages.


Just wait until the Barry Mani-roll becomes a thing, then everyone on the internet will know that song regardless of age.

Here’s a scholarly paper on the subject of meme traversal, it’s very interesting.

In “Tom Wolfe’s Los Angeles,” a 1977 one shot TV show on PBS, there was a segment about a cop show in which the producers of such shows were called “jock sniffers” as they tended to idolize and copy the cops they were hanging out with in order to get “local color.”

How did “copaganda” emerge? Because insecure TV producers and writers got caught up in emulating the cops they were hanging out with. They became “jock sniffers,” picking up unearned swagger by their association with real cops.


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So this has nothing to do with Copan, Honduras? I bought great carvings there and loved the ruinas. Why is the good stuff always ruined by US media?

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