I like the show Blue Bloods. I’ve had some issues with some of the things depicted and I’ve talked about at least one of them on this blog, but overall I think the show is very well done.
Yesterday there was an article about the show in the American Conservative:
CBS’s Blue Bloods remains an unexplained anomaly. Now in its improbable eleventh season, a television show less suited to the ruling zeitgeist can hardly be imagined.
This post was prompted as much by the comments to that piece as the piece itself, but I’ve thought about these kind of things quite a bit over the years.
TV was different when I was growing up. Many of the TV shows portrayed clear cut good vs bad stories rather than the “nuanced” stuff you see now days. There are many times I’m watching a modern show and just can’t get into it because there are no characters that I can like. Even the protagonists are all jerks.
Even many (if not most) of the sitcoms of my youth were centered around a well functioning family dealing with life in an honorable way.
One of the ways I’ve always thought about shows like these is “aspirational”. Blue Bloods is not really intended to depict the way the NYC Chief of Police (a political position appointed by the Mayor) does things, or how cops really are, or even how any real (even very close) nuclear family works, it’s kind of a “wouldn’t it be nice if this is how things were” kind of show.
That’s the kind of show I grew up with…where the good guys were actually good guys and he writers didn’t feel the need to introduce some sort of fatal failing or weakness to make them seem more “relatable”.
Doesn’t mean they’re perfect, they make poor decisions and mistakes just like anyone else, but just like in real life, what makes one honorable hinges as much upon how one handles mistakes as it does on the decisions made in the first place.
I feel that I learned a lot from shows like that, especially in my youth…not about how real humans are, but about how good humans should be. It gave me something to aspire to…hence my classification of this type of show.
In my opinion there is social value in providing these types of shows and lessons to people. I think that in SOME cases it CAN inspire us to better ourselves and become better people.
And I think many people…probably mostly us deplorables from flyover country…think so too. They enjoy shows that depict an idealized version of the world…heck, we live in the nitty gritty of the real world every day, why would we want to have it shoved in our faces as “entertainment” too?
That’s why shows (and movies) like this can be so popular. It’s not the “action” or “cop show” aspects of this that draw people, it’s the obvious integrity and honor of the main cast of characters who strive to do the right thing, even when it can come at a personal cost.
Several people in the comments to the article that sparked this post had a negative view of the show. That’s fine, it’s a matter of personal preference and no one is forcing you to watch a TV show. If you don’t like cops being depicted as good people doing a tough, demanding job to the best of their ability. If you don’t like being shown how to handle interpersonal conflict both firmly and tactfully, if you don’t like being shown how to own up to mistakes and work to correct them with courage, then change the channel. You probably wouldn’t have gotten anything from the example anyway.