I’m writing something on the new COPS: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD for EW, and here are the emotions I’ve gone through while watching the show:

1) I had no idea Reno 911! was this dead-on. Could they not copy this dialogue — from a call involving fisticuffs between a woman’s husband and lover — verbatim?

Cop: You got a husband here, okay. You got a boyfriend. You need to make a decision: It’s either the husband, or the boyfriend, or neither. Okay?
Woman: It’s gonna be both. You can have two people at once.
Cop: Then somebody’s gonna end up going to jail. Do you understand that?
Woman: Yes, but see there’s one thing: My husband loves me, and my boyfriend loves me, okay. But my husband loves me more than my boyfriend.

2) I had no idea this show would actually move me. You can watch any Law & Order episode you want, and nothing would compare to the season 5 scene of a young woman, lying facedown on the road, on a foggy morning in Los Angeles. The air is thick and silent; the veteran detectives move slow. Back at their desks, they talk through scenarios. “You got a pretty, young Hispanic female nicely dressed, nice figure, who knows how nice she was in life, because we didn’t know her, we’re just gonna walk in her shoes for awhile. But you almost have to think: Is this what it’s gonna boil down to? You got a spot of blood in the fog, with only cops looking on, and nobody knows who the hell you are.”

So back to the question: Who watches Cops — and why?