Can a fictitious television show tackle the bitter conflict around policing, race and America’s criminal justice system?

The creators behind the new forthcoming FOX network series, Shots Fired, hope that art imitating life will captivate viewers, and perhaps inspire dialogue.  

The 10-part limited series—which stars Sanaa Lathan, Mack Wilds, Helen Hunt and Dennis Haysbert—will premiere on Wednesday, March 22, airing from 8-9 PM ET/PT. The show examines the dangerous aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small Southern town, providing an explosive autopsy of America’s criminal justice system. There’s media attention, public debate, social unrest and more.

In a nation where Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and hundreds of Black men and women have died following police encounters, the intense subject matter may not prove entertaining for everyone. Still, if the first episode is any indication, Shots Fired will make for compelling TV.

Here are three reasons you may want to watch.

An Absorbing Plot

When Joshua Beck (Mack Wilds, The Wire, 90210), an African-American Sheriff’s deputy, kills an unarmed white college student, a small town in North Carolina is turned upside-down. Before residents have a chance to grapple with this tragedy, the neglected murder of an African-American teen is brought to light, opening wounds that threaten to tear the community apart. The edgy music perfectly underscores the plot.

A Talented Cast

Leading the federal inquiry into the shootings is seasoned investigator Ashe Akino played by Sanaa Lathan (The Perfect Guy, Love and Basketball) whose character has a young daughter and an ex who seems vaguely shady. In one memorable scene, Ashe engages in sexy talk while dismissing his new woman: “Does she know when you’re inside of her, I’m inside your head?”  

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Ashe is paired with a young, dashing Special Prosecutor, Preston Terry, whom Stephan James (Race, Selma) brings alive. As the duo start to peel back the layers of both cases, they suspect a cover-up that may involve some of the state’s most powerful players.

Among them: North Carolina Governor Patricia Eamons (Emmy and Oscar-winning actress, Helen Hunt). She’s in a tough re-election match, and the shootings in her state are making it even tougher. Meanwhile, real estate mogul and owner of a privatized prison Arlen Cox (Academy-Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss), is pulled into the volatile debate over policing in the town. Lt. Calvert Breeland (Stephen Moyer), a seasoned veteran in the Sheriff’s Department, gets caught in the middle of the investigation.

The Power Couple Producers

The masterminds behind Shots Fired are none other than the talented power couple, Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (Notorious, New York Undercover, Get on the Bus).  In a video clip, Reggie shared that emotional family conversations after the death of Trayvon Martin helped inspire the series.  

Talk about triple and quadruple threats: the series (produced by 20th Century Fox Television, in association with Imagine Television and Undisputed Cinema) is created, written, and executive-produced by the Bythewoods, along with Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo, who directed the premiere episode. The longtime couple, based in California, have two sons.

You can follow the series here: Twitter @ShotsFiredFOX; Instagram @ShotsFiredFOX; #ShotsFired.


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