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What 'Terriers' Taught Shawn Ryan About Being a Showrunner

Shawn Ryan
Jesse Grant/Getty Images

PASADENA – Shawn Ryan is turning the lamentable cancelation of his FX show Terriers into a teachable moment.

“It was certainly a lesson for me in terms of my responsibility as a showrunner,” said Ryan. 

Ryan is creator/writer/executive producer of the Fox midseason police drama The Chicago Code, which bows Feb. 7, and was originally titled Ride Along. But the experience with Terriers, a crime dramedy with an apparently impenetrable title, underscored the importance of a show’s title and prompted a re-examination of Ride Along.   “I started realizing that this show had evolved,” explained Ryan. “It had become more than just being in cars with police officers.”   The drama stars Jennifer Beals as the steely superintendant of the Chicago P.D. with Jason Clarke as a loose-cannon detective under her command. Chicago Code is shot in the Windy City, where the actors went on multiple ride-alongs with Chicago police officers.    “The show,” said Ryan, “had come to represent a city.”   If The Chicago Code is the narrative of a city and a certain subculture – in this case the police and on-the-take politicians that have become notorious in Chicago – Ryan acknowledged that the lingua franca of the police force required a creative approach in order to pass the standards and practice gatekeepers.   “It was an interesting dilemma especially coming off The Shield where we had a certain amount of freedom,” he said. “But I understand the difference between broadcast and cable. We couldn’t really use 'jagoff' and we definitely couldn’t use 'asshole.' So we came up with jaghole.”