Crime Dramas are Losing Their Identities and Audience Appeal

In the Wake of “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” there seems to be no end to the unnecessary extensions and reboots of crime dramas.



Kaila Burnside, Online Editor

In an age of mediocre, nonsensical reboots, it’s no profound realization that streaming providers are eager to extend or revive existing content rather than formulate new shows. The initial reasoning makes sense, successful series generate audience engagement and therefore revenue. These shows and films are industry cash cows so why not milk them until they’re dry? But no matter how good the original show was, when that same cash cow is beaten to death by lackluster plot lines in an attempt to extend it far past its reasonable end, the quality is bound to decay. This issue exists in just about all televised media but is especially prevalent in recent iterations of crime dramas. The recent airing of “Criminal Minds: Evolution” reignited my distaste for this issue. I happened to walk into the living room to be greeted by familiar actors and yet a show that lacked any semblance of the original. It truly felt as if the producers arbitrarily slapped the title on some random show.

The writing for the majority of these shows is downright lazy. Whether this is due to a lack of care or that’s legitimately the best they can do is up for debate. Either way, fully developing a story and its respective character arcs takes time, not just to write, but also to portray on screen. In an attempt to appease audiences that are constantly in want of content, writers increase the volume of content at the expense of its quality. I can’t help but feel that the extensions of these shows are too focused on unrelated and underdeveloped subplots. I don’t care about what the characters ate for dinner when serial killers are on the loose. The crime aspect is the meat of these shows, detracting from the main appeal of a crime drama by focusing on underdeveloped plot lines demeans the entire purpose of the show.

“Criminal Minds” received critical acclaim when it initially aired and it’s clear the producers of this reboot expected it to be well received too. It’s clear that the writers intended to take a more mature, character-centric approach. That’s great and all but the reality is that the characters were driven and accentuated by the crimes they solved. Everyone brought a unique perspective to profiling. In the reboot, the audience is subjected to an emotional wreck of a cast prone to sudden outbursts and profanity. And to boot, arguably one of the most beloved characters, Spencer Reid is absent from the cast leaving even more slack for the show’s remaining characters to pick up. His character was the definition of analytical and it was in his lack of emotions that we witnessed profiling at its best. His pragmatism added focus to every case.

The first iteration of criminal minds had a knack for hooking viewers immediately. Each episode would introduce a unique ‘unsub’ relatively quickly and develop the killer’s motives and habits throughout the rest of the episode. A good balance of red herrings made the show less predictable and added a degree of believability to the cast’s genius. The act of solving mysteries demonstrated the cast’s qualities and allowed for subtle character development driven by the crimes themselves. It was a given that each episode would have a killer and the show acknowledged this expectation and didn’t patronize the audience by attempting to hide it. The same cannot be said for the first episode of “Criminal Minds: Evolution.” Waiting for the plot to initialize was excruciatingly painful and 15 minutes into it, there was still no sign of a criminal, just an emotionally distraught cast.

     It’s disappointing seeing all crime shows blur into the same unrecognizable mess.  It’s about time that some of these series meet their conclusive ends. When fans want to see the continuation of their favorite series, it’s usually not because they want a lower-quality version with hardly any semblance of the show’s original charm. If the writers have no intention of building upon the story, why not put everyone involved out of their misery?