Shawn Ryan Invents His Own Profanity for ‘The Chicago Code’

Tuesday, January 11 by

“The Chicago Code” is the new cop drama from the creator of “The Shield.” Shawn Ryan brings the force to primetime. Chicago PD Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) recruits noble patrol officer Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) to help her fight corruption. So it’s the politicians who are dirty, not the cops.

“I didn’t want to repeat myself on ‘The Shield’ so this was a character that didn’t exist on that show,” Ryan said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “I like the idea of approaching crime from the top and I like the idea of approaching it from the perspective of a female character. There would obviously be some curiosity and resistant to a female superintendent being the boss of 10,000 cops.”

Beals used some tough talk to describe how she goes all Vic Mackey on the scum holding high office, without breaking the rules. “What was interesting to me for the first season was to try to play that balance of what it takes to lead 10,000 men,” Beals said. “In the Chicago police department I think only 25% are women. That balance you have to strike of what is feminine leadership and what is masculine leadership. How do you get 10,000 men to follow you? What does that leadership look like? Is she a transformational leader? I don’t want to say ball buster but I’m going to say ball buster. Is she more of a ball buster? What kind of leader was she and what kind of leader did she have to be for these men to trust her and follow her.”

Since “Chicago Code” is on Fox, the cops can’t say sh*t or a*shole like the strike team could on FX. The show is still hardcore though. Wysocki comes down hard on anyone who swears, and Ryan found some creative solutions for other dialogue situations.

“We came up with a few colorful words,” Ryan said. “We couldn’t use jagoff and asshole but we found a way to use jaghole which sounds so much worse. So we found creative ways. It was something in the pilot script, I wrote Jarek’s character as a character who was resistant to profanity in public situations which was a way to acknowledge those words are out there but we understand why they’re not being said in this context. This is a network show and we’re playing by network rules. I don’t think it hurts the show. There are no big battles with me carrying a pitchfork to the S&P [standards and practices] of Fox.”

The show began its life with the title “Ride-along,” which suggests the audience riding with the cops. The new title reflects a bigger picture Ryan has planned for the show. “The original concept was to try to do a police show in Chicago that kind of made the viewer feel as if they were in the police car with the cops,” he said. “That was my original, original concept. It evolved greatly over time. It became a show that I realized I wanted to be about a lot more than just police officers. Police officers are who we use to look at the city and the intersection of politics and its citizenry, but it became much more than I originally intended.”

Also, Ryan just had a good show bomb on FX because the title was weird. “It was certainly something that the experience on ‘Terriers’, where the title may have been an obstacle in getting people to come, certainly was a lesson to me in my responsibilities as a show runner besides the creative aspect,” Ryan said. “That was something I should have caught earlier. It made me re-examine the title ‘Ride-Along’. I realized this show had evolved into more than just being in cars with police officers. It had come to represent a city, represent a code, a city and politicians. I’m happy with it.”

“The Chicago Code” is coming this February to Fox.

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