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East New York's Unique Approach To The Crime Procedural Has Everyone Impressed

CBS is no stranger to police dramas. For proof, look no further than the network's current programming slate, which includes "Blue Bloods," "S.W.A.T.," and three iterations of "FBI." However, in a post-George Floyd world, cop dramas are prone to an extra layer of scrutiny for their depictions of cops' personal and professional lives. Case in point: In 2020, the long-running show "Cops" was canceled after a run of more than 30 years.

But CBS' latest cop procedural, the inspired-by-real-life "East New York," seeks to correct some of that backlash. The new series, which airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, has earned praise for its willingness to address genuine concerns about the law enforcement community. In the show, precinct chief Regina Haywood (Amanda Warren) attempts to reduce arrests for petty crimes and nip major crimes in the bud, all while navigating a racially charged environment in a tough working-class neighborhood. And critics are loving it.

East New York is more than a simple procedural

As Amanda Warren's character tackles her new role as precinct chief with equal parts sensitivity and urgency, she comes to terms with the fact that, as Captain Stan Yenko (Richard Kind) notes, there's "a little bit of everything in East New York" — and that she must respond accordingly. For starters, she realizes she must do more to understand the area's residents. She thus urges Officer Brandy Quinlan (Olivia Luccardi) to move into local housing. This plot device in particular signals that Warren's character Regina aspires to make a real difference in her neighborhood.

"East New York" also manages to integrate hot-button issues into its stories without creating much narrative strain. The show includes fair, realistic depictions of a department hamstrung by limited resources and unnecessary turf battles. There's even a moment when a younger cop of color asks his senior partner why he stopped a Black man on the road. These are all departures from past cop shows that tended to glorify cops and gloss over their flaws.

Critics love East New York's unique approach

"East New York," which features a cast you've seen before — including Jimmy Smits of "NYPD Blue" fame — has drawn praise for its diversity and contemporary, no-frills take on cop culture and American crime. The first season, which premiered on October 2, 2022, currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%. Additionally, Daniel D'Addario of Variety said, "It frankly feels welcome to see a series treat its cops as flawed and their leader as searching for ways to improve."

Echoing this statement, Brian Lowry from CNN claimed, "One series won't reverse the tide, but 'East New York' has the potential to depict the police as people -– noble and heroic at times, but not immune to insecurities and excesses –- and do the same for the people with whom they interact, instead of reducing them to perps or chalk outlines."

And since "East New York" had a strong premiere, with about 5.271 million viewers, it may have more chances to fulfill its mission.