Shows
Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images (Danes); Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images (Cheadle)

By Nate Millado

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

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Mission: Impossible

Actor Peter Graves of the original television show Mission: Impossible.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive

Mission: Impossible lit the fuse for CBS's run of Globe-winning shows when the spy-centric program prevailed as Best Television Series in 1968.

All in the Family

All In the Family's Carroll O'Connor smokes a cigar and looks askance.

Photo Credit: Bettmann

All in the Family set the gold standard for sitcoms, having won a record four Best TV Series–Musical or Comedy awards.

M*A*S*H

Actor Alan Alda poses against a red background in his green army fatigue costume in a MASH promotional image.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive

As Hawkeye Pierce in the hit series M*A*S*H, Alan Alda took home six trophies for Best Actor in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy.

Murder, She Wrote

Actress Angela Lansbury sits amidst her writer's library in a shot from the Murder, She Wrote set.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive

It's no mystery that Murder, She Wrote's Angela Lansbury is a versatile actress; she's been nominated 15 times over her career and has won four Globes for her starring turn as novelist-turned-detective Jessica Fletcher.

The Carol Burnett Show

Black and white image of a young Carol Burnett receiving a Golden Globe award.

Photo Credit: Ron Galella

The iconic Carol Burnett has a Golden Globe award for excellence named after her, and for good reason: The ear-tugging comedian earned five Globes for her eponymous variety classic, The Carol Burnett Show.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

A promotional image of Mary Tyler Moore sitting on a stool flanked by Cloris Leachman and Valerie Harper.

Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection

The Mary Tyler Moore Show earned 23 nominations during its run; Mary Tyler Moore herself won Best Actress in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy in 1971. Ed Asner's lovably gruff boss was so popular with TV audiences that he won four total Globes for the same role on two different shows: The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff, Lou Grant. Other MTM offshoots that took home the gold: Valerie Harper and Rhoda in 1975 and Cloris Leachman for Phyllis in 1976.

Michael C. Hall

A Dexter promotional image of Michael C. Hall reading a newspaper with a Miami background.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive

Michael C. Hall absolutely slays as Dexter—so much so that he's returning as the serial-killing antihero in an upcoming SHOWTIME limited series. He finally took home the Golden Globe in 2010, wearing a black knit cap: He'd been fighting cancer, unbeknownst to many of his fans!

Stream Dexter on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Gina Rodriguez

Actress Gina Rodriguez walks the Golden Globe red carpet in a black dress.

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

"This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning, 'Today is gonna be a great day; I can and I will.' Dad, today is a great day; I can and I did."— Jane the Virgin' star Gina Rodriguez, 2015 Best Actress in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy

Christine Lahti

Actress Christine Lahti smiles on the Golden Globe red carpet holding her award.

Photo credit: NBC

"I was just flushing the toilet and someone said, 'You won!' and I thought they were joking!"—Christine Lahti of Chicago Hope on her infamously ill-timed bathroom break,

Candice Bergen

Actress Candice Bergen walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her award.

Photo credit: Ron Galella

"And now, I'd like to sing ... no, no, never mind."— Candice Bergen after her acceptance speech for Murphy Brown in 1989.

Cybill Shepherd

Actress Cybill Shepherd walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her awards.

Photo Credit: Ron Galella

"And particular thanks to the Great Goddess in all her guises; may she bring us peace, joy, and righteous anger. Blessed be."—Cybill Shepherd, 1996 Best Actress in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy for Cybill.

Don Cheadle

Actor Don Cheadle walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding his award.

Photo Credit: Robyn Beck

She just said it didn't really say my name, but she said it anyway, so ... thank you, Lucy!"—Don Cheadle of House of Lies (SHOWTIME) quipping about presenter Lucy Liu.

Stream House of Lies on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Rachel Bloom

Actress Rachel Bloom walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her award aloft for all to survey.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djanzezian/NBC

"Oh my god, oh my god. Oh, all right. Guys, guys, guys. I'm just going to talk to you like it's people and pretend that I am not on TV."—An overwhelmed Rachel Bloom upon winning Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy in 2016 for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Claire Danes

Actress Claire Danes walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her award.

Photo Credit: AFP

When 15-year-old Claire Danes first won the Globe for My So-Called Life, she burst into tears backstage because she had forgotten to thank her parents! Seventeen years later, the Homeland heroine got a re-do: "I'm just so lucky to have another opportunity to let them know how deeply grateful I am for their love and encouragement, and any fulfillment I have as a person and actor I owe in large part to [them]." Homeland also won top honors in 2012 and 2013.

Stream Homeland on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Toni Collette

Actress Toni Collette walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her award.

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

Toni Collette—and all her different personalities—won the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy for United States of Tara.

Stream The United States of Tara on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Jim Parsons

Actor Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

No bazinga here! Jim Parsons won Best Actor in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy in 2011 for The Big Bang Theory.

The Affair

A shot from Showtime's The Affair.

Photo Credit: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

The 2015 Golden Globes were an Affair to remember—SHOWTIME's infidelity drama The Affair beat out House of Cards, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, and Game of Thrones in the night's biggest upset!

Stream The Affair on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Ron Perlman

Actor Ron Perlman walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding his award.

Photo Credit: Ron Galella

Once upon a time, Ron Perlman of Beauty and the Beast won Best Actor in a TV Series–Drama for imbuing his feline-faced romantic hero with soft-spoken sensitivity.

Stream Beauty and the Beast on CBS All Access.

It's a tie!

A young Cher smiles while getting her shared award.

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives

It's a tie! All in the Family matriarch Jean Stapleton and a singing, wisecracking Cher (The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour), er, shared Best Actress in a TV Series–Musical or Comedy in 1974.

Tom Selleck

A promotional Magnum P.I. image with actor Tom Selleck leaning against his red Ferrari.

Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection

Tom Selleck (now on Blue Bloods) was nominated seven times for his role as mustached macho man Magnum, P.I. Although he won in 1985, Selleck was MIA from the ceremony—his Golden Globe–winning co-star John Hillerman accepted on his behalf.

Julianna Margulies

Actress Julianna Margulies walks the Golden Globes red carpet holding her award.

Photo Credit: AFP

Nominated a dozen times throughout her career, Julianna Margulies finally won in 2010 as The Good Wife.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

DISCOVER MORE: Check Out The 15th Anniversary Issue Of Watch—Available Now!

Stream all seasons of The Good Wife on CBS All Access.

Photo Credit: 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc

By Nate Millado

You only need three letters to elicit decibel-breaking screams from audiences: BTS, comprised of members J-Hope, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, and Suga. The insanely popular boy band from South Korea has made frequent pit stops at a pair of places, en route to world domination: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Watch rounds up the K-Pop supergroup's greatest hits on CBS Late Night, including "Dynamite" performances and endearing interviews. (You're welcome, BTS ARMY.)

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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs Weeknights at 11:35/10:35c, followed by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37/11:37c on CBS and streams on CBS All Access.

"Dynamite"

Whaddya do when you can't physically go to The Late Late Show during a global pandemic? Simple—you bring The Late Late Show set to you. Which is what BTS did in November 2020 for this special performance of their first all-English hit, "Dynamite." The Bangtan Boys segue seamlessly from an airplane hangar to the very familiar Studio 56.

That's GRAMMY-Nominated BTS To You!

Fresh off their first GRAMMY nomination—Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Dynamite"—BTS sat down virtually with James Corden, who pointed out how differently each member reacted to the big news. While most of 'em hoot 'n' hollered upon hearing their name, V sat stoic-faced on the couch. "In my case, I just couldn't believe it." Meanwhile, J-Hope was MIA: "Actually, I'm not in the video because I was sleeping. So I cried when I woke up."

"Life Goes On"

Christmas came early for the ARMY in November 2020, when BTS gifted fans with a performance of "Life Goes On" from a cozy holiday set.

BTS Mania At The Ed Sullivan Theater

In May 2019, BTS and Stephen Colbert paid homage to the last group of mop-topped heartthrobs that graced the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. (The Beatles...ever hear of them?)

"Boy With Luv"


Oh my, my, my! The impeccably dressed supergroup shows off its fancy footwork with a B&W performance of the "Map of the Soul" earworm.

Where Does BTS Want To Be In 10 Years?

After Colbert reveals that BTS is the first group to release three #1 albums in a single year since The Beatles, the adorable septet launches into an impromptu rendition of "Hey Jude."

"Make It Right"

BTS may be famous for its intricate choreo, but the boys also know how to command a stage when simply sitting on stools, as this May 2019 serenade shows.

Flinch w/ BTS

Throwback to December 2017: It's all fun and games at The Late Late Show, as James Corden fires fruit at incredible rates of speed at BTS (protected by plexiglass). Which members will "Flinch"?

"Black Swan"

In January 2020, a black-suited-and-barefoot BTS debuted "Black Swan" for the first time on television—with a haunting ultraviolet forest backdrop! The ARMY lost their collective minds on Twitter: "I was NOT ready for this," a fan posted. "The choreography was just next level perfect. The song, the moves, the vocals EVERYTHING was stunning."

Hide-and-Seek With BTS And Ashton Kutcher

The Seoul sensations are so sought-after, they're probably used to hiding from paparazzi—but can they hide from James Corden and Ashton Kutcher? After they scurry to their hiding places around Studio 56, Corden and Kutcher seek out the septet. (First one to find four BTS members wins!)

"Boy with Luv" In Quarantine

BTS sure knows how to quarantine in style! The singing-rapping-dancing talents saved us from 2020 with this pandemic-era performance of "Boy With Luv!"

BTS Carpool Karaoke

In this instant classic from February 2020, Corden hits the carpool lane with his very famous passengers to sing songs from their album "Map of the Soul: 7." BTS even covers Bruno Mars' "Finesse" and Post Malone's "Circles" and crashes a dance class!

DISCOVER MORE: Check Out The 15th Anniversary Issue Of Watch—Available Now!

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs Weeknights at 11:35/10:35c, followed by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37/11:37c on CBS and streams on CBS All Access.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.


By Lisa Kennedy

During a video call with Folake Olowofoyeku —the Nigerian American star of the hit comedy Bob ❤️ Abishola—something subtle but unmistakable occurs. Although it's two days before her birthday, a cloud drifts over her face, blocking her smile—a gap-toothed wonder of an event that can take her from serious to incandescent in a heartbeat.

Four days earlier, protests against police brutality in Nigeria (hashtagged #EndSARS for the police force's rogue Special Anti-Robbery Squad) turned deadly, with soldiers firing on peaceful protesters at a well-known toll gate in Lagos. Although Olowofoyeku just marked her 17th year in the U.S., the news of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre was more than distressing. And a flat-footed question about her childhood led to an impassioned tutorial in contemporary Nigerian politics. Her parents would be proud.

Folake Olowofoyeku on the cover of the 15th anniversary issue of Watch Magazine.

Puff gown by BCALLA. Shoes by Nine West.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

Felicia and Babatunji Olowofoyeku (the latter a significant player in Nigeria's independence) named their baby girl after a woman of firsts: Folake Solanke, the African nation's first female senior advocate. And though the actor/musician veered away from the political ambitions her parents harbored for her, she, too, is a woman of firsts. One half of the romantic pair in Bob ❤️ Abishola, she brings gravity, grace, and a sly smile to the first American TV show to spotlight a Nigerian family.

Olowofoyeku pulled a fast one nearly two decades ago when, as an 18-year-old, she visited New York City and found a way to stick around: enrolling at the City College of New York, feigning interest in economics and law on calls back home when in reality she was diving deeply into theater and music.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a blue and white patterned top and pants.

Top and pants by Valentino. Shoes by Nine West.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

She did off-Broadway theater, had turns in television (Westworld and Transparent), and rocked the bass in two David Bowie videos, but Abishola has been a grand leap. The single parent of a young son and thoughtful niece of two hilarious kin (Barry Shabaka Henley and Shola Adewusi as Uncle Tunde and Auntie Olu), Abishola works as a nurse in Detroit. Which is how she meets Bob. The impossibly endearing Billy Gardell portrays the harried compression-sock company scion. In last season's pilot, Bob's looney family and family-business stress found him rolled into an ER and awaking post-surgery to Abishola's lovely if stern visage. He was smitten. Abishola, well, not so fast.

Comedy hitmaker Chuck Lorre and co-creators Eddie Gorodetsky, Al Higgins, and Gina Yashere have delivered a valentine to the immigrant experience, to the clumsy cultural grappling and heartfelt embraces that make America so much more than the sum of its parts. In addition to writing , Yashere, a British Nigerian comedian, also plays Abishola's bestie, Kemi. Yashere's creative influence and Olowofoyeku's star turn give the show a warm yet ground-breaking feel. Olowofoyeku and Gardell's chemistry make it an "Audience Heart" pleasure.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a Rajo Laurel top.

Top by Rajo Laurel. Bracelet by Timelapse Co.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

"That's her! That's Abishola." That's how Chuck Lorre and Billy Gardell recall your audition. How do you remember it?

It's vivid. It was one of the easiest auditions I've ever experienced. I mean, there was a lot of work that went into it at home. It was very important for me that Abishola not be a caricature. I wanted her to be real and relatable, not just to Nigerians but also all immigrants as well, and, of course, Americans. So I put a lot of thought into that. But the actual process of meeting casting and meeting the producers, that was a breeze.

Do you feel you're carrying a lot of weight, being a Nigerian actress playing a major role on American television?

That part hasn't sunk in yet. [Laughs.] I don't feel a burden so much as a responsibility. Now the sitcom is showing in Nigeria. It started this year, so I'm getting a lot of fans trickling in from back home. Each fan feels like they know best how she should be portrayed. I don't know how much power they think I have. I'm able to offer suggestions—and it's a great dynamic—but at the end of the day, the final say doesn't rest with me. I go to work and remind myself I have to be present. I'm here to do my job: learning my lines, showing up on time.

There must be some satisfaction in the clarity of that—of doing the work.

I know that some would argue that more important than the work is social justice and what you're saying and your contribution to society as a whole and what sort of imagery you want to put out there, and I believe that very strongly. And there will come a time where I get my own project and I'll be able to fuse all my beliefs into it.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a loose sleeved seafoam dress and sash.

Dress by Fe Noel.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

Billy Gardell used one word a lot in talking about the show before it premiered—"kind." It's a great word, and a great approach to other human beings. Is he that guy?

Yeah, he is. I'm trying to live up to him. He's my role model. He's very kind. Very forthcoming. I go to him for advice, just about managing it all. He's a funny guy, super comfortable. It's really easy. And everyone tells me that—how easy I have it working with Billy. One day we'd been doing publicity and I'd taken my shoes off in the car. When we got to the front of wherever we were about to go into—a restaurant in New York, I think—the valet kept on rushing us. And Billy got upset. He's like, " Wait! She needs to put on her shoes!" My agent at the time was blown away. He was like "Folake, this doesn't happen often." I can't imagine doing this with anybody else.

Folake Olowofoyeku and Billy Gardell  on the set of Bob Hearts Abishola.

Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola and Billy Gardell as Bob on the set of Bob ❤️ Abishola.

Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/CBS.

There's something very contained about Abishola, but she's not just the "straight man" to Bob's comedy. Was that your choice?

The writers do an amazing job. And Chuck. He's brilliant. He shows up and whatever isn't fine-tuned, he just [makes a gesture of waving a wand]. Magic. But it's interesting that you say that. Abishola is nothing like me. We're similar in some ways but vastly different in the way we present ourselves in the world. I created the choice for her to be kind of rigid. But I'm finding room to loosen her up. As Billy put it—and I've come to realize as well—Bob and Abishola are the straight men. The straight "folks"—to be politically correct—in this crazy world.

Do I have to spell "folks" with an "x"?

Why not? [Smiles.] The world is spinning around them, and they're like " What is going on? " They find each other in this tornado. It's love. It's this is my person.

Tell me a little bit about growing up in Nigeria. You left at 18.

Yeah. [Pauses.]

Hold on a second. Was that face because of what's going on right now?

Um hum.

So talk to me about that. Are people safe?

For now none of my family members are injured. Where the initial massacre occurred is where I grew up. Whenever I go there, that's where I am. And my family, they're all there. So my auntie, from her home, heard all the gunshots.

Pictured (L-R): Barry Shabaka Henley as Uncle Tunde, Shola Adewusi as Auntie Olu, Travis Wolfe, Jr. as Dele, and Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola of Bob ❤️ Abishola.

Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/CBS.

This must weigh on you.

Yeah, peaceful protesters were just sitting down on the ground in front of the tollgate. You have to understand the history of the tollgate to understand that it is itself a symbol of oppression. That's why it was a significant point for people to go protest—protesting police brutality, protesting unemployment, and just all the crazy injustices that exist within the country. Apparently, it's escalated. So the #EndSARS protests were about that. The youth that are so often called "lazy" stood up and said, "No more." And they were gunned down.

What do you do with all that when someone's asking you about a show that's pretty effervescent—nuanced to be sure, but very different from the concerns you're carrying at this moment? Do you compartmentalize?

Well, I have to. What happened in Nigeria hit me hard. I was at work yesterday and—it was tough—I had to talk to everyone and tell them, " We're doing a show about Nigeria, and I think it's important that you know what's going on in Nigeria. I know I'm a little late today, but there's a lot going on in my world. I want you to understand, I'm not being an a—hole, I just need a minute to regroup and focus." So, yeah, I do have to compartmentalize. I guess we all do. I'm straddling so many experiences: the Black experience in America, the immigrant experience in America, the woman experience in America, the Nigerian experience in America. There are so many different worlds I feel I have to juggle.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a loose sleeved patterned seafoam dress and sash.

Dress by Fe Noel. Shoes by Imagine by Vince Camuto.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

"Intersectional" isn't a great word, but as the concept of overlapping identities, it's pretty spot on.

I feel like I'm at all the intersections. But I'm up to it.

An interview show you were on last year displayed this blown-up photo of you as a baby in your mom's arms. Tell us about her.

My mom . . . gosh, I wish I knew her a little bit more. She was a strong woman, super strong. She was born in Lagos. Her family was from Akure. She grew up in Lagos, Lagos Island. Her name was Felicia. She dealt with a lot of things in the family, and then just being a woman in Nigeria. She was so funny and charming and goofy at times—especially when she left Nigeria and she could relax a little bit. She died of breast cancer.

Folake Olowofoyeku as a baby with her mother

Folake with her mother.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Folake Olowofoyeku.

How old was she when she passed?

I think she had just turned 60. She was very resourceful—resourceful and tenacious. I think I get that from her.

What's an example of your resourcefulness?

Well, I'm here.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a bronze colored giraffe print dress.

Dress by Retrofete. Earrings by Noa. Bracelets by Timelapse Co.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

There is that.

I've been pretty much here on my own since I was 18. My parents didn't want me to be in the arts. They wanted me to follow my father. "Acting? Music? What the hell are you talking about? " The first time I visited New York was on my birthday in October 2001. I figured out a way to stay. And I found a way to say I was studying economics and then ended up in the theater department. Then eventually here.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a bronze colored giraffe print dress.

Dress by Retrofete. Earrings by Noa. Bracelets by Timelapse Co.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

How long were you in New York?

This was 2001 to around 2012.

Music is a love, right?

That's my first love. Music's what I always wanted to do. My father played organ and classical piano. He taught all his kids. My lessons stopped when he was getting old and was ill. I was very young , probably like 6 or something. I would still dabble, trying to teach myself stuff.

Folake Olowofoyeku with Chris Hardwick playing instruments

Folake Olowofoyeku with Chris Hardwick, recording for her appearance on his podcast.

Photo Credit: iD10t

But what I really, really wanted was to learn how to play the guitar. I was obsessed with Michael Jackson, and because of that I got introduced to Slash. I loved his melodies. I used to beg my mom for guitar lessons. It was always a "No!"

This guy at church, I got him to show me some stuff on the bass. That was right before I left to come to America. When I got to America, I bought an acoustic guitar. The first thing I taught myself to play was the first guitar solo from Guns N' Roses' first album.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a white cowl top and gold bracelets.

Top by Antonio Grimaldi. Earrings by Noa. Bracelets by Timelapse Co.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

At some point won't they write music into the show for Abishola? It'll be this great reveal.

We talk about that. One of the songs I sing in the shower in the show, me and my writing partner actually did that together.

What are your ambitions for this show? By the way, congratulations. Bob and Abishola are getting engaged.

I'd love us to shoot a couple of episodes in Nigeria. Because a Nigerian wedding is quite a thing. It goes on for over a week sometimes. We have the traditional wedding that could be one episode. We have the white wedding that could be another episode. It would be so magical. I pitched the idea, so it's out in the universe. I'd love to see that. I think I can go for eight or 10 seasons. I'm down to do that. I think Billy's down for that, too. I'm ready to do this for a while.

Bob Hearts Abishola star Folake Olowofoyeku wears a white cowl top and gold bracelets.

Top by Antonio Grimaldi. Earrings by Noa. Bracelets by Timelapse Co.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Toye Adedipe.

HAIR: Zion Illiwood | MAKE-UP: Samuel Paul

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: Enjoy 4 Digital Plus 2 Print/Digital Issues Of Watch Per Year— For Free!

Bob ❤️ Abishola airs Mondays at 8:30/7:30c on CBS and streams on CBS All Access.

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.


By Fred Schruers

When Aaron Rahsaan Thomas set out to reboot the legendary pulp classic of a mid-'70s cop show called S.W.A.T., there was a key and specific change he began with: "A lot of people may not realize this," he says, "but the original show was not set in Los Angeles, but in a fictional city. The very first S.W.A.T. team was created in Los Angeles, the city that has perhaps the most notorious relationship between their police department and communities of color. I feel like if you're going to tell that story, you lean right into that—what is the reality of a Black police officer in the city of Los Angeles?"

S.W.A.T. showrunner Aaron Rahsaan Thomas\u200b poses wearing a cap and a mauve jacket.

S.W.A.T. showrunner Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.

As from-the-headlines as the show has become, given recent national struggles, Thomas knew he could revisit the world of cops chasing bad guys with a new kind of messaging: "Even as we pitched the show to CBS, [co- showrunner] Shawn Ryan and I approached the material about the tension between police and the community feeling that it's not so much that it's a timely topic as it is a timeless one."

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Shemar Moore, Lina Esco, and Shawn Ryan\u200b of SWAT pose at a press event.

From left: Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Shemar Moore, Lina Esco, and Shawn Ryan.

Photo Credit: Michele Crowe/CBS.

That belief meant that even at S.W.A.T.'s unveiling three years back, before the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other such tragedies, the tensions encapsulated in the seeming dichotomy of Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter already were key to the show's approach. It was crucial to the vision that lead actor Shemar Moore's Hondo character be a Black man from a working class Black neighborhood. Thomas was confident he could meld the show's "kick-ass set pieces" with emotional character insights. As a key player in the success of such series as CSI: NY, Southland, and Friday Night Lights, Thomas was grateful that "I've been able to pick up a lot of really helpful habits and techniques as to how you manage a show and put a story together."

The SWAT team stands amidst the wreckage of a small plane on set.

The S.W.A.T. team, ready for action.

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/CBS.

Thomas had been scouting locations for Season 3's finale (now postponed) when the pandemic clamped down. Along with the traditional "A" story (a nefarious plot by a murderous cartel boss), aspects of the city's racial legacy came to the fore. "Our finale was already going to deal with the flash-backs that help to tell the history behind the LAPD and the community—a story about a young Hondo back in 1992, when his [sometime Black Panther] father was a young man. That was in place before a lot of the unrest happened."

A SWAT team membemr wears a helmet with the visor down as he points a gun during a tactical advance.

S.W.A.T. team member Jim Street (Alex Russell).

Photo Credit: CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Finally, COVID-19 had to be addressed. In scenes involving multiple people, "there are masks and responsible distancing ," Thomas says. Still, he promises that the characters will feed into the action, "to keep up the pacing of a high-octane show that has momentum. This is an urgent, lean-forward show. We want to keep you on your toes at all times."

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

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S.W.A.T. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c and streams on CBS All Access.

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