TV: BLUE BLOODS, S07E05: “For the Community”

p13012519_b_v8_aa#1 TV show, Friday, 10/21/16

9.86 million viewers

What it is: A CBS drama about a family of New York City cops, led by Tom Selleck as the Police Commissioner. In this episode, a prosecutor tries to help a local community activist (played by Judy “Carla from Scrubs Reyes) keep from being deported, Selleck grapples with how to handle a potentially controversial raid, and some other cops try to get a teenage psychic’s life back on track.

Yeah, I know: Blue Bloods is a #1 show? Apparently! It’s been on for seven years and hey, there ain’t a lot of competition on Friday nights.

I’ve complained before about TV dramas being unrealistic, and this show’s preferred method of stretching plausibility seems to be presenting the warm-and-fuzziest possible depiction of New York police work, from one character working diligently to help the irascible but well-intentioned protester she’s often put in jail to Selleck agonizing over the effect a gang raid might have on hearts and minds, and ultimately being shamed by a little kid (played by Caleb “Lucas from Stranger Things” McLaughlin) who angrily throws away a toy badge after the cops arrest his brother. I’m sorry if that description doesn’t do justice to the scene’s cliched schmaltziness.

But it does occur to me that there is a difference between shows that present an unrealistic world because of their writers’ laziness or ignorance and shows that present an unrealistic world out of a desire to comfort viewers with a vision of how society should work rather than how it actually does. The latter approach absolutely has its pitfalls, but it also has potential value in terms of defining our values and what sort of behavior we want to strive towards, so it’s relatively less objectionable than, say, a police procedural that presents lie detector tests as infallible go-tos because the writers don’t know any better or can’t figure out another way to wrap up their story. Blue Bloods‘ depiction of law enforcement is still paternalistic towards the people being policed, but at least it’s affectionate rather than being contemptuously authoritarian like some cop stories are.

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