‘Blue Bloods’ Had an Opportunity to Address Police Violence in Season Four and Totally Fumbled, Critics Say

One of the great things about television is that it has the ability to address important topics in a manner that is both entertaining and profound. One of the most profound examples of this was M*A*S*H. The show, which starred Alan Alda, was set in the middle of the Korean Conflict and was primarily a comedy. Despite the numerous laugh out loud scenes, the writers frequently slid in moments that provided viewers with educational insight into the fear, loneliness, heartbreak, and tough decisions that take place during wars. The popular drama series, Blue Bloods’ had an opportunity to do something similar with police violence during the fourth season, but to some critics, they missed the mark.

Gabriel Rush held up against a metal fence by Vanessa Ray on set of Blue Bloods
Gabriel Rush and Vanessa Ray on set of Blue Bloods | Bobby Bank/Getty Images

An opportunity for ‘Blue Bloods’ to handle an important current affairs topic

This is a great time for television to take on current hot button topics. There are very few restrictions on the types of topics the shows can handle. Even when the fans don’t agree with how a show handles the topic, it always generates a great deal of discussion on social media channels which is free publicity for the program. Given that Blue Bloods is a show about the police, it makes sense that the cast and crew would be interested in exploring the issue of police violence. 

The show has a history of taking headlines topics and turning them into fiction. One of the things the show has done well is addressing the fact that while the family sees racism while on the force, the writers have done a good job of showing how a white family can be in the middle of something and still fail to see the whole picture or fully understand the other side of the story which makes them often appear unyielding. It is an interesting perspective that many shows fail to capture.

What the show doesn’t do well is show that it is more than just minorities who speak out against the police. The show doesn’t have a good history of showing white people clashing with the NYPD.

Fumbling the attempt to address pseudo-police brutality

RELATED: ‘Blue Bloods’: An Episode From Season Two is Facing New Scrutiny

You have to give the Blue Bloods creative team credit for attempting to address an issue the media seldom discusses. In season four, an episode was aired that dealt with the concept of an officer being framed for police brutality. The episode showed a young officer chasing a black man. The chase ends when the suspect is shot. The officer swears that the black man threatened him with a gun, but no one can find it. The cop is framed. To the entire city, it looks like a case of police brutality followed by a cover-up. Eventually, it was discovered that a Latina bodega owner had found and hidden the gun. 

There was a time when the episode would have been considered really well done, but now it feels dated. One can’t help thinking that it would have been more interesting, and relevant if the investigation had revealed that the young officer was responsible for police brutality and that dealing with the fallout finally forced the rest of the characters to face the idea that the police aren’t always pure and just. The fact that the lies and bullying tactics were used to eventually get the bodega owner to reveal the gun’s location didn’t help the episode, as Slate asserts.

Critics responded to the episode

Many fans weren’t happy with how the episode handled the topic of police brutality and were quick to speak up. One Twitter user vented their frustrations: “Anyway, I’m over this performative “sorry for the blackface” thing Hollywood is doing right now. I’m more interested in copganda being gone (which would mean abolishing & dismantling CBS really) and dragging you mofos for your colorism. That’s a reckoning with that EYE wanna see.”

Another user responded that she felt the show and some others on the CBS nework were nothing more than propaganda for the police. “Such a massive part of CBS lineup is copganda, they would basically need to close up shop (GOOD!). I would like to see it.”

The future of Blue Bloods

While Blue Bloods fumbled their attempt to deal with police brutality, there have been times when the show has done an excellent job of taking current affairs issues that involve the police and created excellent thought-provoking shows. Hopefully, in this racist climate we’re currently living in, Blue Bloods will tackle issues that include racial profiling, police brutality, and protests, and provide us with some great episodes that get all of us talking.