My Own Criminal Mind

British people (or at least people who program British television) really love American police procedurals. At any time of the day, somewhere on my 500 or so channels there will be multiple Law and Orders, CSIs, NCISes, Mentalists, Mediums, Castles. I like watching the Law and Orders because they’re filmed in NY (CSI: NY—epic FAIL as it’s taped in LA), but I’ve found lately that I’ve become increasingly addicted to Criminal Minds. I’m not completely comfortable with this.

The show is about a group of criminal profilers in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. The murders they investigate, generally serial killings, are unusually grisly and disturbing, which I don’t exactly have a problem with. What makes me uncomfortable is that Criminal Minds seems to take nearly as much delight in showing the torture and agony of the victims as it does in the pursuit of justice, which makes it exploitative. It’s like TV’s answer to torture porn, though it tries to moderate this by taking itself VERY SERIOUSLY.

It also luridly focuses much of its violence on women. Granted, if most serial killers are men and most serial killings have a sexual component and, percentage-wise, most men are straight, then the majority of people killed by serial killers will be women. It’s just that it takes such a prurient glee in the violence and then tries to cover it up with pithy moralizing.

I’m not priggish. I understand the need for some violence in plot development, for artistic purposes, to make a point. But something about the way Criminal Minds focuses so much on that torture leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

So I’ve thought long and hard about why I actually like the show. It’s not especially well written. It’s not especially well directed. It’s not even filmed in NY. Finally, I realized my reason can be summed up in three words: Matthew Gray Gubler.

Anybody who knows me and has seen MGG on Criminal Minds would realise immediately how much I’d fancy him. He’s thin to the point of sickly and desperately needs a haircut while his character, Dr Spencer Reid, is brilliant and absurdly logical. Dialogue sample:

Dr. Spencer Reid: A popular theory among leading astrophysicists estimates that the hyper-matter reactor would need about 10³² Joules of energy to destroy a planet the size of Earth. Now, Lucas said it took 19 years to build the first Death Star, right? If you look at the universal chronology, there’s a tested prototype for Superlaser – where’re you going?

Derek Morgan: To take back the last five minutes of my life.

I love him! The first time I watched Criminal Minds with my parents and Dr Spencer Reid came on screen my mom said to me, “You like him, don’t you.” It was a statement, not a question. And of course I did: he’s Spock and Data and the Tenth Doctor all rolled into one.

Even in the most horrific of episodes, I find myself mesmerized by his pedantic monologues, his awkward interactions, his possible borderline schizophrenia. So I watch each episode my DVR records (and it records at least two a day) and cringe and roll my eyes during most of it. But then, like some gawky, geeky dreamboat Dr Spencer Reid appears and soothes away all my moral qualms and objections.

I’m not proud of this. But, as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants, even if that means watching someone else’s heart being ripped out and used to make wind chimes.*

* I’m making that up. It was really just human rib bones that were used to make the wind chimes in an episode, not the actual hearts.

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~ by kellly333 on September 14, 2010.

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