I love Criminal Minds. I’ve watched it since the first series and I’m always in the mood for it. Watching it is like pulling on my favourite comfy jumper, despite the show being about murderers and other criminals, I find it so easy to watch and weirdly comforting. I love the characters, and I love that most of the episodes are a self-contained story, so you can dip in and out of past series whenever they are being repeated on TV.
A lot of episodes are based on, or reference, real cases – I remember one episode inspired by the story of Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton, and another loosely based on the Mexican Old Lady Killer, Juana Barraza – but that understandably seems to happen less frequently now we’re on to the thirteenth series. And this brings me to my main observation about the current series of Criminal Minds. Is it me, or are some of the cases getting a little bit crazy?
I understand that this is an entertainment show, and the writers need to keep finding new angles and new stories to tell to keep the audience interested, but honestly, I think I enjoy the episodes where there’s a straight-up serial killer just going about their murdery business, to the ones where there’s some elaborately bonkers back story. It feels like nobody on Criminal Minds is allowed to just want to murder a few people any more, there has to be some aspect of the case that teeters on the edge of being comically weird. Most crime shows I’ve watched have fallen into this trap at some point, I recall the gloriously cheesy CSI: Miami having an episode where the sound of a crime being committed was ‘recorded’ on a ceramic vase that was being made on a potter’s wheel, for instance.
So far, on the thirteenth series of Criminal Minds (and I’m a little behind because I’m in the UK), there’s been a murder by drone, a weird survivalist cult kidnapping people and keeping them in their huge futuristic underground bunker, someone using snakes to kill people, a guy who was obsessed with pirates, and a serial killer who thought he was a werewolf. Now, come on.
I always find it a little bit cringey when a show like this tries to hop on the latest technology bandwagon and include it in the story. For one, it usually ages badly – even now drones kind of feel like yesterday’s news. It also often ends up feeling like a grown-up trying to use young-person words to be cool, which always has the opposite effect.
As for the guy who was obsessed with pirates (he even poured bleach in his eye so he had to wear an eye-patch), and the werewolf guy – well, I don’t even know where to start with either of those. I know that weird stuff like this does happen in real life occasionally (google the Vampire of Sacramento, Richard Chase, if you’d like to never sleep again), but I have to say I found the idea of a ‘werewolf’ roaming Central Park with his self-made canine mouthpiece was verging on being too funny even for me, and I love me a bit of cheesy crime melodrama.
I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on Criminal Minds, because I genuinely look forward to watching it every week, but as a true crime aficionado and card-carrying Murderino, I’m kind of just fascinated with your common-or-garden criminal. I am utterly captivated by the stories of serial killers who carefully plan and commit their crimes over a period of years, but also by your average Joe who just flips one day and goes ballistic – to me there is nothing more interesting. Criminal profiling as a concept is so incredibly captivating, so do we need every episode of Criminal Minds to be so theatrical and bananas? Probably not.
There are so many things I love about this show and even the crazy cases are never going to make me stop watching. In fact, if I’m honest, I do kind of love the bonkers storylines a little bit, despite the 600-or-so words above that might suggest otherwise. It’s got to the point now where I’m watching an episode where absolutely nothing makes sense, just waiting for the delicious bit when Reid (and it’s usually Reid) comes up with the madcap theory that explains everything. So, part of me just wants an episode where a regular douchebag does some crimeing simply because they’re a douchebag, but the other part of me is pretty intrigued to find out what madness is in store for the rest of the series.