On Tuesday, July 19th, USA Network was scheduled to debut its new series called Shooter, starring Ryan Phillippe as a decorated ex-Marine sniper who jumps back into action in light of a plot to kill the president. That is no longer the plan as the network announced today that the premiere has been pushed back in light of the recent deaths of five police officers in downtown Dallas.
The incident came about after protesters gathered in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, who were both fatally shot in separate situations by policemen. A sniper opened fire, killing five officers on the scene and injuring more.
A rep for USA told THR in a statement:
In light of recent tragic events and out of respect for the victims, their families and our viewers, we have decided to postpone the premiere date for the upcoming USA Network series Shooter to July 26.
This is certainly not the first time a network decided to shift its previously scheduled slate in light of an incident. Some examples include The Last Ship (Season 3 material rescheduled due to the Pulse gay bar shooting in Orlando), Supergirl and NCIS: Los Angeles (content shifted in light of the Paris terrorist bombings), and Mr. Robot (season finale was postponed over similarities with the shootings of news reporters on live TV).
Especially in an age when viewers can shout their complaints off the proverbial rooftops that is social media, it’s never a bad thing for networks to air on the side of caution and shift things around. One of television’s most important functions is escapism, making this a perfectly acceptable practice. Though, other networks have taken different routes in their approach to such circumstances.
Following the Sandy Hook shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings, NBC pulled the Hannibal episode “Ceuf” from the air and only posted pieces of it online. This sparked a slew of questions, especially for a show that’s already not for the sensitive heart, ones that EW writer Jeff Jensen wrote about at the time. Are disclaimers for the episodes the better way to go? Should the episodes instead be posted online? Should it be up to the network or the viewers to decide what material is “insensitive”?
Shooter will now premiere on July 26th on USA.