Shemar Moore criticized CBS over the weekend for canceling its show “S.W.A.T.” after six seasons and underscored its diverse cast and positive ratings.
“It makes no sense,” Moore said in a video posted to his Instagram on Friday “because I’m a little bit sad.” He credited “S.W.A.T.” as CBS’ “most diverse show” and said he was “the only African American male lead on network television.”
When the show debuted in 2017, CBS was facing criticism for its lack of diversity after it released a fall schedule that featured six new shows all starring white men, a moment that Moore recalled when he was hired on to play the show’s lead, Sgt. Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson.
The LAPD-centered cop drama, based on the 1970s show of the same name and the subsequent 2003 film, was heralded as a rare opportunity of diversity.
“To our fortunate surprise, from the very beginning [CBS was] really, really adamant about trying to stay within their brand but do the next wave, the modern version, to lean into some areas that they hadn’t touched on before,” the show’s executive producer, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, told The Times in 2017. Thomas, who is Black, was also credited with filling the directing and writing positions with other people of color and women.
“There weren’t enough dramas that were taking people of color seriously,” Thomas said, recalling what he saw on TV while growing up in the 1970s and 1980s.
With the rebooted “S.W.A.T.,” Moore went on to headline a main cast that also featured Mexican American actor Stephanie Sigman; Lina Esco, who is Colombian; and David Lim, who is Chinese American. Behind its car chases and explosive scenes, the show focused on issues of race relations between police and the community and within the LAPD.
“And the world took us in and embraced us,” Moore said. “And the ratings have only been getting better and better and better.”
In its Friday evening slot, the show’s ratings have continued to increase each year, according to TV Series Finale, which releases Nielsen ratings data.
Since calls for more diversity industry-wide intensified in 2020, TV shows made gains in diverse casting, specifically among lead actors, with an increase in Black performers, according to a UCLA’s 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report, which covers data from the 2020-21 season. However, the study found persisting issues with diversity of its writers and producers.
With “S.W.A.T.” as an exception, Moore said he was concerned less about himself, but the entire crew, including the writers and producers, caterers, construction crews, sound mixers and other postproduction members.
“I will get in a lot of trouble with CBS because I’m calling them out,” Moore said, adding that he’s had a good relationship with the network for the last several decades, after having also starred on CBS shows “The Young and the Restless” and “Criminal Minds.”
“But to abruptly get told that you’re canceled,” Moore continued, “when you led us to believe last week and the week before and the week before that, that we would have some semblance of a Season 7 to at least say goodbye, if not continue.”
Moore called on fans to “make some f— noise” to urge studio executives to rethink their decision.
“This ain’t the way to go out,” he said. “If we’re gonna go out, cool, but let us go out right.”