John Langley Dies of Apparent Heart Attack at 78: Reps
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Cops Creator John Langley Dies of Apparent Heart Attack: Reps

John Langley, the creator of influential reality TV show Cops, died of an apparent heart attack while competing in an off-road race in Baja California, Mexico, which borders the U.S. state of California, according to representatives in a Variety report.

Langley passed away Saturday amid the Coast to Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250 off-road race, family spokeswoman Pam Golum said, according to The Associated Press. He reportedly often drove in such competitions.

Cops was known for following police during patrols, highlighting dramatic portions of arrests. It began in 1989 and ran until 2020, serving as a sort of prototype reality show years before the genre surged in popularity. It was cancelled after the death of Minnesota man George Floyd, who died during an arrest in May 25, 2020. Floyd’s passing, which has since been adjudicated as a second-degree unintentional murder at the hands of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, sparked an ongoing national debate over law enforcement treats people of color, especially Black men like Floyd.

Langley described his creation of the show in pretty ironic terms.

“I’m a kid of the 60’s,” he told Television Academy Foundation in a 2009 interview. “I’m sort of anti-authoritarian by nature. If you told me I was going to do a show about cops, I would have said, ‘What am I going to call it, Pigs?'”

He described his show as an “existential variety show with an accent on the criminal justice system.”

“It’s the only show I know of on television that has no music within the show itself,” he said at the time. “No narrator, no host, no reenactments, no script. Show me any other show like that. There aren’t a lot of them if there are. You go along literally for a ride. You see a world you’re not likely to see, and even though I think I’ve seen it all on Cops, I’m still surprised.”

[Image via National Association of Television Program Executives]

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