Dear Detective Show Writers:
I appreciate all that you do, and I know it’s hard work coming up with new ideas and concepts and story lines for police shows. Hence, the rise of the “ripped from the headline” plots we all saw on Law & Order. But that pressure aside, can we please put a few stories on the very backmost burner? They’re not interesting anymore, and they’re one version or another of offensive. Let me point these out for you all:
Transgender Killers—Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, CSI, and NCIS have all run this story. What’s more dangerous than someone who wants a sex change? Someone who wants to hide their sex change, obviously. They’re also typically portrayed by non-transgender women because apparently the plot wouldn’t hold up if they looked too male. So all of these characters, and all male-to-female, I’ll add, have had access to crazy kinds of resources for facial reconstruction, or they just look like Katherine Moennig. Cold Case featured an episode not of a transgender killer, but a victim instead, but we still got to see loads of unexamined anger at trans women. Great. How about we no more of these, especially as these stories are nowhere near the reality for transfolk? We’re not the ones running around killing people who don’t understand us, I promise. It’s not even an interesting twist on storytelling.
The Smart Black Boy Had to Kill to Leave the Ghetto—It’s almost nuanced, almost a critique, almost. . .but it doesn’t get there. Reifying that black folk don’t need no education, the one standout in a family or neighborhood also happens to find murder a justifiable behavior. So either people of color are unimpressive intellectually or they’re capable of homicide? This is itself an evil story to present on national television, and Criminal Minds, Law & Order, and L&O SVU have served it up to us. Maybe the writers are trying to play against the reality that the majority of serial killers are white, middle-aged, heterosexual men, or perhaps they’re attempting to show us how hard it is to be of color in America. I can think of many better ways to get either of those points across. Please stop using this one. Thank you.
The Middle Class Girl Who Had to Kill Her John/Pimp—Thinking back over their many seasons, I’m wondering if this single plot line hasn’t contributed something like 7 or 8 percent to the episodes of L&O SVU. But don’t let other shows off the hook, because it’s been all over the place. It’s a highly moralist tale: mothers, don’t let your small girls grow up to be sex workers. Geez, it’s like those sea monkeys—dip these little flakes into water, and poof! Sea monkeys! These teenagers set foot in the big city, or any big city, and poof! Prostitutes! Sometimes addicted to drugs! But they retain enough of their middle or upper-middle class upbringings that they won’t take abuse for too long. Just long enough to worry their regretful parents and cost a ton in legal defense. And sometimes, just sometimes, at the very, last seconds of the episode, we’ll see that they’re super evil now, maybe always have been. Now isn’t that a hoot? I guess it’s just fine to hate on sex workers! Good to know…let me file that one away in my Which Attitudes to Express to Which People book.
So writers, thanks for reading. Know that we appreciate your hard work and collaboration. But it’s time to move on to better ideas, okay?
Everett, your faithful viewer