Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lessons learned watching 78 TV crime shows: White guys drop like flies


It started with a gas can.

The opening scene of the pilot episode of "Stalker" -- in which a young woman and her car are doused with gasoline and set on fire by a mask-wearing creep -- is among the most graphic sequences on a TV crime show in recent memory. It led to a discussion in the Zap2it offices about how procedurals portray their crimes, particularly when women are the victims. Was that "Stalker" scene an anomaly, or was it representative of what viewers see on crime shows as a whole?

So we decided to take a look. Zap2it watched 78 hours' worth of 16 different network procedurals that aired in October and November 2014: ABC's "Castle" and "Forever"; CBS' "Blue Bloods," "Criminal Minds," "CSI," "Elementary," "Hawaii Five-0," "NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "NCIS: New Orleans," "Person of Interest" and "Stalker"; FOX's "Bones"; and NBC's "Chicago PD," "Law & Order: SVU" and "The Mysteries of Laura." 

For each episode, we cataloged the type of crimes committed; the gender, race and approximate age* of the victims; whether the crime took place on- or off-screen; if there was a reconstruction or re-enactment of the incident; and the gender, race, approximate age of offenders, as well as details about their relationship to the victims..
 


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