Cop show Blue Bloods makes me cringe

Public relations for the NYPD and the Catholic Church is in full effect on Blue Bloods.

Blue Bloods is racist and sexist. I’m not going to argue about that.

Many shows are racist. Especially cop shows. What is of interest to me is that Blue Bloods is special in its racism and bigotry. It’s special because it’s well written. It’s an engaging family drama.

For those who don’t watch it, it’s a cop show about a multigenerational white family in New York who occupy various different echelons in the  NYPD hierarchy, including the top job, police commissioner. Tom Selleck plays the wise, fatherly, tough-sensitive top cop whose sons and daughters are fighting their way up through the ranks. They’re the Reagans and they’re a family of good caring cops who argue politics and criminology over dinner.

Sadly, I can’t help but like the Reagans, even though the plot lines and dialogue have been written by Fox News pundits. It’s really effective public relations for the NYPD.

I hope they’re paying.

For Catholicism too. This kind of good PR shouldn’t come cheap.

Both the NYPD and the Catholic Church are portrayed as underfunded, caring, wise institutions whose problems are created by haters and politicians and racists.

And this, I think, is what makes me sick. Many people watching Blue Bloods will have no idea that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. many people who like Blue Bloods won’t understand that the actions of the NYPD are systemically racist. Many people who watch Blue bloods will enjoy having important issues boiled down to easy soundbites.

It makes me queazy, in part, because I could watch it. I could like this family-values family of hardworking do-gooder white cops. I could ignore the racism just like I ignore it, or fail to notice it, in the other shows I watch.

I could ignore the gross PR for a worldview where bad cops are simply bad apples, and reverse racism reigns, and women falsely accuse men of rape.

But media is powerful.1

And we get the world we portray.

Blue Bloods portrays a patriarchal grandfather guiding his gritty caring family through the noble life of service they’ve freely and virtuously chosen. And it makes me angry. I’m not alone in this.

Unfortunately, putting a human face on the trials and hardships of white do-gooder cops is normal. Television has largely given us the white stories, the white narratives, the white heroes.

And Blue Bloods is no different. A lot of folks watching Blue Bloods are going to have their worldviews affirmed. It’s very slick PR for white supremacy.

I hope one day the actors, or their children, or their children’s children look back and wonder what the fuck they were doing.23

  2. The overarching narrative of the show is racist. That means the project is racist. And that means that those supporting the project are doing something racist. That includes the actors, the writers, and the advertisers.
  3. Turns out the median age of the viewers of this “white privilege lullaby” is over 60.


  1. OMG!…Where do I begin? I am a Black woman, late 50’s living in Harlem (in the section that is now referred to as Hamilton Heights; used to be called “Sugar Hill”, “The Hill”…Now it is referred to as Hamilton ‘Heights’, I think it was to make it palatable to the mostly young whites who have bought the property the stupid Blacks sold to them so they could get their cut of the money from the fabulous properties that their parents worked like dogs to buy after World War II. The parents die then the siblings battle over whose getting what percentage of the money after the sale of these grand mansions/brownstones along Convent Avenue. Which sadly is now predominantly white owned and occupied. I have nothing against the whites per se. It’s the overwhelming racial contempt they display towards me as a Black person who’s lived here mostly all my life. They very rarely speak to (me) the people in the community and IF they do deign to look at your person it’s frequently with a virulent contempt and hostility so palpable you wished you hadn’t looked at one of them — to maybe just say, “Hello”, “Good Morning”, How’s it going”…No, the whites who occupy my neighborhood are very clear about the fact that they’re hoping all the extremely racist white cops who live in Massapequa Park, Long Island and work out of the “Dirty 30” (what the 30th Precinct was named in the 80’s because of the rampant corruption and ensuing scandals during the time Crack decimated Harlem) will eventually eliminate all the remaining Niggers who are still so very much ‘in the way’ and leave a few of the Spics, to run the stores and clean their brownstones while they’re at their high 5 and 6 figure 9-5 corporate jobs…That said, there are no words to describe the shame, embarrassment and near humiliation I feel after having read the blog piece by Laura Hudson last night…The reason is because UNTIL the very moment I read her RAZOR/LASER sharp commentary I had somehow, and I don’t know how (THE main reason for my embarrassment) I didn’t recognize how deeply and insidiously racist it IS!!! OMG, I literally almost became physically ill last night. I was actually watching Blue Bloods at the time I came across Laura Hudson’s article…As I was watching it something, I don’t know what exactly, compelled me to do a query on what percentage of Black people make up the viewership of Blue Bloods…Me, all happy and shit about it being a HIT show and actually thinking how proud my oblivious Black ass was for having made it so…OMG! Please forgive the overuse of the “OMG’s and exclamation points (lmao: like Elaine in Seinfeld)”, I’m trying not to begin hyperventilating…And while watching and querying I was also composing a letter to send to Executive Producer Leonard Goldberg suggesting he get rid of head writer Siobhan Byrne O’Connor or hire someone capable of writing more multi-dimensional storylines for the characters lives. In particular, “Mayor Poole”, Danny’s partner, “Baez” and to offer storylines where “The Reverend Potter” wasn’t always vilified. He’s really Al Sharpton in real life; which always cracks me up…Well, after reading Ms. Hudson’s article I sat in stunned silence for at least half an hour. I turned the TV off, not muted it and just sat and painfully reflected on how, in God’s name could I have missed it!?!
    Today, I got up and just looked at my laptop and said to myself: You’re 1st gonna have to forgive yourself, then you’re gonna put the starch back in your spine and get back to reading more commentary and analysis of what this show really represents…And that’s how I came to read your analysis of the show. I’m living variations of these stories far too frequently. There have been times when I’ve had cause to call the police (an extremely misogynistic male neighbor threatened to physically assault me — I was one of three women on my floor he had targeted) but I rarely do, because when I do I know there’s a possibility I will be threatened with arrest or BE assaulted BY them. I have always been cursed at by them — that’s a given. On one ocassion when I called them he was cursing me to the point it would have made the toughest man cringe. And one officer said in full view of him and everyone else (while waiting for the elevator to leave the building after literally having done nothing to assist me), “That’s not so bad…” as he continued to curse me in their presence. This is not the exception in my building or my neighborhood, it’s the NORM…
    Thank you Sherman Arnott! Next, I intend to find out how to write to Laura Hudson…to tell her the same. Went to the website the article was linked to but wasn’t able to (I am just becoming social media savvy) find a link to write to her, but I will.

  2. I agree that the show panders to every racist stereotype under the sun, although I don’t agree that is well written. The only saving grace this show has in the acting.

    1. i was with you all the way up to your comment about the acting. It’s shit too.

      I live in Scotland, and loved NYPD Blue back in the day. That show had a flawed, but likeable and honest, main character. And it contained a wide variety of supporting characters with different racial and social backgrounds. Each race had their own drunks, noble characters, and villains. Blue Bloods, by comparison, is just an obvious and clumsy piece of badly-acted, right wing propaganda. It portrays an NYPD that is almost completely American-Irish, catholic and good. It’s so-obviously unrepresentative of reality, that it’s practically a comedy. But even if it were accurate, the writers don’t seem to realise that they’re portraying a world that most real people don’t want to live in. A twee, moralistic, narrow-minded fantasy where straight, white WASP-y characters are always good, and anyone that doesn’t fit that ‘norm’ is usually bad.

      1. Yeah, I’m starting to doubt my original claim that it’s well-written (or-well acted for that matter). What does that even mean, in the context of its bigotry? It doesn’t make sense to me at the moment. Maybe what I was getting at was that the writing (and acting) is going to be, sadly, very effective for a large audience. Or maybe I have a very low standard for writing and acting. Hah.

  3. Y have seasons 1, 2 and 3. And yes i belive blue bloods is a Republican racist tv show. In this times where our country is living so much racist stress this show is not … NOT!… helping our society. Tom Sellek one of my favorite actors since “magnum” really disapointed me. Republicans +catholic church +racism + bad times in the USA= a BIG mistake in the american tv show busines.
    Pd: REGAN last name? What you where thinking?!…

  4. I never watched until I just wasted 5 precious minutes of my life viewing an older episode. Tom Selleck’s character told his daughter, basically, that she can’t win a case in which her ex-husband is representing the defendant. He then went on to tell her she was in danger if becoming a SPINSTER!!!!! This whole scene took place, BTW, while he was sitting at the kitchen table, watching her wash dishes. Oh, and she asked about her unmarried brother, to which he replied “There’s no such thing as a spinster uncle.”
    I almost threw a brick at the TV.

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