CBS defended its oft-criticized gory crime drama Criminal Minds in the wake of the recent school shooting in Connecticut.
Talking to a huddle of reporters at the network’s press tour session in Pasadena on Saturday, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler was asked about violent content on the long-running show. Specifically, one reporter referenced NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt saying last weekend “Criminal Minds is worse than [Showtime’s] Dexter ever was” in terms of violence.
“It’s a much-maligned show,” Tassler said of Minds. “I happen to enjoy the show. It’s not for everybody. It’s an adult show. It’s a suspense thriller. And within that it’s also a character crime procedural. It’s given an appropriate rating. I don’t let my [14-year-old] kid watch it. I do. It’s a genre show … I think we’re making a huge mistake — and I’d say it to Bob to his face — to let any of the [violence] conversation devolve into ‘my show vs. your show.’ This is a much bigger issue.”
Debate over Minds was renewed before the Sandy Hook killing spree when the show’s former star Mandy Patinkin called the series “the biggest public mistake” he ever made. “I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year,” the actor said last fall. And earlier this month, a boy on trial for killing his neo-Nazi father blamed a Criminal Minds episode for giving him the idea (the boy said the episode showed a kid getting away with murder after killing his abusive father).
TV networks have been put on the defensive about violent content in general the past week during the industry’s semi-annual press junket. Fox’s entertainment chief was asked about network’s upcoming serial killer thriller The Following, NBC defended another upcoming serial killer show Hannibal and FX’s president claimed that high-capacity guns are a bigger problem than TV violence.
Pressed if CBS was going to make any changes on its shows in terms of violent content, Tassler simply said that networks and producers are always making changes to shows.
“This has been talked about a great deal this week,” Tassler said. “I don’t think any one of us in this room … I don’t think there’s any one on this planet who’s alive who hasn’t been changed and/or affected by the recent course of events. What’s happened has shaken me and all of us to our core. To the sense that people come to work with a renew sense of sensitivity — absolutely. We are parents, and we respect the jobs that we have; we respect the relationship we have with our audience. Nothing that’s on the air is inappropriate … our shows are appropriately rated on television … next question.”