I write this post with a heavy heart. Blue Bloods has been one of our family’s favorite shows for the past several years. It is a family police drama and one of the few shows on TV that takes religion, the “traditional” family, and law and order seriously and respectfully. For conservatives like us, the show was a weekly oasis in a cultural landscape that is increasingly hostile to our values. But I acknowledge that we are on the “wrong side of history.” I’m sure that Karl Marx and our current president would no doubt agree wholeheartedly with that description.
It seems that in the last decade we have suddenly become bigots. Yes, Blue Bloods jumped the homosexual shark (I know, that’s a mixed metaphor.) I’m the prototypical regressive Christian (I believe morality is something that doesn’t change with the so-called tide of history, and thus is not culturally determined), and that makes me persona non grata in a culture that sees sexual self-expression as life’s summum bonum.
That doesn’t bother me much, because as Christians we’ve always known that although we are in the world, we are not of the world. Many Christians around the world are being tortured and killed for their faith, not just demonized by a progressive cultural elite. The Apostles, Christ’s closest followers, died horrific deaths. Being seen as a bigot by self-righteous liberal elites isn’t the worst thing in the world (although it will, and has already had, real world consequences as it is codified into law).
It is widely agreed upon across the cultural spectrum that trying to send heavy-handed messages in movies or TV shows is not a good thing; the entertainment value of a work of art suffers when nuance is thrown out the window (think Atlas Shrugged). I don’t think the makers of Blue Bloods agree. It seems from last night’s episode that the writers, obviously on the “right side of history,” decided history needed a very big push. They should have put a cliché alert at the beginning of the show. It was by far the worst “agenda” episode I’ve ever seen on TV, and in a Hollywood totally dominated by sanctimonious progressives, that is saying something.
In the episode, a longtime, well-respected detective is forced to “come out of the closet” because he witnessed a crime in the wrong gay-friendly neighborhood. He is also Latino, which makes it especially difficult because, well, you know how bigoted and unreasonable patriarchal Hispanic culture is. His father even says that he is not welcome in his home again. The gay detective’s partner no longer wants to work with him, ostensibly because his partner wasn’t honest with him, but you know it’s because the gruff New York City detective is just an anti-gay bigot. He even punches his gay partner in the face. Subtle.
Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and his sensitive, gay-friendly Latina partner (Marisa Ramirez) go to New Jersey to search for clues about the perpetrators of the crime. There they meet a police captain who mocks homosexuals by lisping and pretending to act effeminately. No, seriously. The writers actually put this in the show!
We ultimately learn, of course, that the primary suspects are two white, twenty-something, ex-football jocks who obviously think killing homosexuals is a good thing. See what happens when you let anti-homosexual bigotry off the hook!
Given that the Catholic Church has always been an important element of the program and the Reagan family, you know the Church won’t come out of this episode unscathed. Sure enough, during a press conference, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), the very definition of gravitas, tells the public that the Catholic Church is on the wrong side of history when it comes to homosexuality. I think he used the words “behind the times,” but you get the point. Reagan even calls out a weaselly looking Catholic bishop in his office for the child abuse church scandals, thus questioning the moral authority of the Church to proclaim homosexual behavior a sin. As the Bishop leaves the office abruptly, he holds out his hand so that a disgusted Frank can kiss his ring.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks (although the writers of this episode somehow managed to do so).
Frank is then taken to task by his press secretary (I guess there are a lot of Catholics in New York City the commissioner shouldn’t offend) and tries to craft a non-apology apology, but he just can’t, with integrity, force himself to do it. The characterization of the Church as “behind the times” must stand!
Finally, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for us: the penultimate scene, in which a nun visits Frank’s home to see whether he can help keep a Catholic school in the city open. She reveals that she is a lesbian, when she tells him that when she left Wisconsin to become a nun, she kissed her girlfriend goodbye. Yes, eventually, one can hope, the Church will come around and get on the “right side of history.”
This leads to the final dinner scene, and there is always a dinner scene or two in the show, with the whole Reagan family gathered around the table. Frank’s dad, an old ex-cop, is clearly depicted as being on the “wrong side of history.” He’s a fossil who needs to be lectured to and dismissed by the rest of his family, who are clearly with the times. The scene couldn’t have been more didactic if one of the characters had turned to the camera, a la House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, and told us, hey folks, don’t get stuck on the “wrong side of history!”
Lest you think that we are obsessed with this one type of sin, early in the show the Reagan daughter (Bridget Moynahan), a divorcee, spends the night with her paramour. Not only are we bigots about homosexuality, but we still accept the quaint notion that sex ought to be limited to marriage, the old-fashioned kind, the one where gender matters. I told you I was regressive.
We’ll miss you, Blue Bloods.