Why I Love Cop/Detective/FED/Spy Shows

I know that a lot of people like procedural shows, but not too many people like them as much as I do.  People find that eventually the format gets tired, they’re easy to solve, or they can only watch an episode once.  I go into a show knowing that the format will be the same, I always know who the bad guy is as soon as I see them or hear them mentioned, and I can watch episodes in marathons over and over again for the same reason that I will read a book ten times: I always find something new in them.

I know what you’re thinking.  I watch a lot of dark television.  You’d be right.  I don’t like shows that are purely funny or ones that basically boil down to who’s sleeping with another character’s boyfriend/girlfriend this week.  Reality shows, mostly, disturb me and make me feel dumber for watching even a commercial.  I mean, seriously… Jersey ShoreHere Comes Honey Boo BooReal Housewives of Orange CountyToddlers and Tiaras? For “reality” shows, they don’t seem anything like my life and I frankly think that they put the worst parts of people on television for other people’s enjoyment.  Honestly, I wonder if people watch to make themselves feel better about their lives.
Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I adore fantasy and science fiction.  Shows/stories that hold a mirror up to the world and make their points in indirect ways are both escapes and thought-provoking analogies for life.  They take more research and more imagination than most people are willing to put into something.  However, I do like more realistic shows as well…just not “reality” shows.
I chose some of my favourites to put on here.  They’re in no particular order really.  It’s not a countdown of my favourites.  It’s not even a list of all my favourite shows in the genre.  They’re just the ones I thought of off the top of my head.  I stuck some on top and some on the bottom.
I love these shows for a few reasons.  The main cast tends to be more normal than a comedy or a reality show.  They have gone to all different levels of school.  Some are brainy.  Some have street smarts.  Some are a little wacky.  Some have rough back stories. Some are poor.  Some come from money.  All of them have experienced aspects of life that make it believable for them to work in the fields they do, even if you don’t know why they are there, you know that past experiences are what drives them.
I’ve been told that people don’t like these shows because they feel that they are not character driven enough.  However, I find that the ones I love are a balance between what is going on with the characters and the weekly mystery.  You learn more about the characters through how they respond to the situation that week than anything else.  I don’t want to be told what a character is feeling or the why of it.  I want to see that through the little pieces that they show.  I want to understand that Morgan is protective about children for a reason that is deep seated and have it build for a season and a half in tiny ways before we know the whole story and then have it circle back again throughout a series via small comments and looks shared between characters.  I want the personal lives of thecharacters to be the background that makes the show tick and to see how they respond to things that are beyond the norm.   The shows I love have characters that become my fictitious friends and I can tell you all about their histories, even though it isn’t the main focus of the shows.

Also, knowing who did it really isn’t the point.  I thrive on the why.  Shows like Criminal Minds, Sherlock, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit specialize in dissecting the psychology of the killer/rapist/thief/bad guy of the week while also having overarching story lines.  I have learned more about abnormal psychology from watching these shows than I did in my abnormal psych class.  I’ve also done more research as a result of episodes that peak my interest than I bet anyone’s Dance Moms.  Granted, if you were to check my search history, it’s a bit darker than most people’s as a result.  I like digging until I figure out why someone does one thing rather than doing something else that makes more sense to any rational person and this interest means that a lot of psychology goes into my writing as well.
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I love it when the characters are inappropriately funny at times because those are the times that I’m a smart ass too.  I have a hard time controlling my mouth (though I do a remarkable job with it while teaching) and my friends and I have more sexual/left-of-centre jokes that come out at exactly the wrong time than we do ones that are said when they’re truly appropriate.  This is the type of humor that’s involved in these types of shows.  It’s not slapstick, it doesn’t make fun of a group of people, and it doesn’t put anyone down.  Think of Morgan and Garcia in Criminal Minds, Jordan and Woody in Crossing Jordan, or practically every joke in Castle.  That’s my type of humor.
I could go on about these shows for multiple posts.  I could talk about each of the shows in turn and tell you why I love each one, what makes them individualistic, gives them heart, and/or draws me in.  I won’t bore you with that.  I’ll just say, if you’re someone who likes to think while watching tv and you don’t watch this genre, check it out.  It’s more fun than you think.

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