I've probably spent my entire life watching medical shows and police shows (my dad was a cop and couldn't stay away from them...he even had to watch "Hunter," even though he hated it). But I've been wondering more and more, what is our fascination with shows like "NCIS," "Bones," "House," "CSI," etc. Because there certainly are more of them than there ever have been, and they certainly are more gruesome and graphic than they've ever been. They are also more about the patient or the victim and less about the professional than they've ever been.
I remember having a discussion with Pastor Petersen one day about how our lit
Image via Wikipediaerature and t.v. shows reflect our societal concerns -- aliens in the '60's and '70's, genetically engineered epidemics in the '90's, etc. But what would shows like our modern crime and medical dramas show us?
I believe they show our fear of loss of identity -- loss of community. Think about it. When someone becomes a patient of Dr. House, a team of five doctors doesn't rest until they find what is wrong with you until you are restored to a state of peace again. The investigators in "Law and Order" do not rest until they have done everything they can to bring justice. Bones, Boothe, and the team focus their amazingly obscure knowledge and all of that they have into making sure that the skeleton and disgusting sludge that comes into the Jeffersonian go out with an identity and a solved murder.
How real is this? Most of us don't get a eam of five doctors who will do anything to make sure we are well. Often when we have five doctors, they don't bother to talk to each other much. We deal with one doctor who performs a couple of blood tests and shrugs during the 5 minute visit because they can't figure out why you feel like crap. Must be in your head...unless the blood tests say otherwise. In reality, I doubt that most murder investigations get the kind of energy that CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, or the others devote. Thinking of the loads these cops and attorneys have, I doubt they can devote that kind of energy.
We live in a culture where we are less connected to people. Sometimes (and it shows in the lives of the victims on these shows), there really are very few people who we interact with who make our existence make sense. That level of devotion that we see in these shows, I believe are a reflection of our society to want to believe that each of us matter, in a world where we are relinquished to ID numbers (this is often explicitly expressed in "Bones.") And in a world where we tend to not show ourselves at our most vulnerable, or the parts that we are most ashamed of -- these shows show us at our worst -- reduced to a smelly sludge, or if still alive, vomiting blood and other bodily fluids. But in the end, we are back to ourselves -- with a name and tied to a life.