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Blue Bloods boss: Criticism in wake of George Floyd is "legitimate," but our fans "take precedence over the 12 pundits who may watch it for the first time"

  • The CBS police drama returned Friday night for its Season 11 premiere, its first episode since the summer Black Lives Matter protests and the resulting increased scrutiny over police shows. But long before Floyd's death, Blue Bloods was criticized for being especially egregious for its "copaganda." As Laura Hudson wrote in Slate in 2014, "the cases that the Reagans encounter—especially the ripped-from-the-headlines ones about race and excessive force—offer constant reassurance that there are no true racial issues within the criminal justice system that can’t be solved by a speech about colorblindness or the steely resolve of Tom Selleck’s mustache. Worse, Blue Bloods has a habit of depicting people who speak up against the police as malicious, manipulative, or deceptive—and a lot of those people happen to be minorities." Showrunner Kevin Wade was asked by Deadline about Blue Bloods' pro-police depiction. He acknowledged there might be some 'blowback" for the way he decided to proceed with Season 11, which has added Whoopi Goldberg in a guest-starring role as a City Council Speaker looking for change in the way Tom Selleck’s Commissioner Frank Reagan and his department does business. "I think it’s a legitimate…listen, we were low-hanging fruit in terms of the police stuff," he says of the criticism. "We are a long-running show about a family of white cops, so I understood that the moment that George Floyd and everything happened. Of course, I do. On the other hand, listen, if it were the first season of Blue Bloods we’d probably be doing quite a few things differently or more dramatically. But it’s not and the people who are returning to watch it this Friday night and onwards hopefully are returning to something that they’ve grown to like over 10 years. To me, the respect and affection of the 12 million people that watch it frankly take precedence over the 12 pundits who may watch it for the first time because it’s a show about white cops." Wade adds: "We’re going to address all these things as we normally would. We’re in our 11th season. We have an enormous fan base that not only shows up on Friday nights but shows up for the syndicated shows, for streaming them, whatever it is. They come to it expecting a certain kind of show. I believe, maybe I’m kidding myself, but I do believe that when we’ve had issues, whether they were black and white or Catholic versus something or Puerto Rican or Hispanic versus something, we would build a platform of equal dimensions for the other side of the argument. Certainly, in the scenes between Tom and Whoopi in the first episode I was very aware, as was Siobhan of making sure not only that Whoopi’s Regina Thomas got to say her piece but that she said it as eloquently and as truly as Tom Selleck’s character does. That, to me, is where the bar is set that any time we…we do and we will delve into so-called hot-button issues but we’re not doing propaganda here, nor are we doing the news. We’re just doing Blue Bloods. So, what we do is going to be done through that decade-old filter at this point."

    TOPICS: Blue Bloods, CBS, George Floyd, Kevin Wade, Black Lives Matter