My favourite TV show of all time has to be Criminal Minds. It is now in its 13th Season and one hopes that it just keeps going. There is something to be said about the beauty of formulaic writing. It has not changed since it first aired in 2005, every episode henceforth has followed the same format, a serial killer is on a murder spree or someone is missing and the BAU, the Behavioural Analysis Unit, in the span of 40 minutes, has to figure out who the Unsub – Unspecified Subject – is and catch them.
That is it.
It is just that simple and it works. There might be overarching themes or larger narratives following the characters throughout a season, but each episode works in exactly the same way.
There is a simple pleasure in how each episode is bookend with choice quotes about human nature or the topic at hand, and this formula pays off because it invites the viewer to look back at the episode and review how the end quote affirms the one shown in the beginning. The quotes succinctly sum up the complexity of human nature. It lets us take stock of how each of these serial killers are could have been us, if not for a choice or the lack thereof. The quotes and the show itself do not condone the reprehensible actions of the murderers, but prompts us to think deeper, be more empathetic and in the end, be more human than the murderers on screen.
Lastly, what is a beloved show without characters to root for? Despite the departure of some well-loved characters, their complex backstories are forever etched into my childhood of police procedurals. There is comfort in knowing the good will always somehow triumph.
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