Blue Bloods: Is Inconsistent Quality Marring the Final Season?

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CBS' Blue Bloods has been one of its most successful shows for 14 years, but its final season may not be up to par, which could hurt its legacy.

Some fans recently took to Reddit with harsh criticism of Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6, particularly about Erin's storyline, which involved a middle schooler accusing her of being unfair and Erin trying to make amends.

Those who complained felt this was a poor-quality story and suggested the writers had given up making any effort because of Blue Bloods' cancellation. However, a small fan group's dissatisfaction doesn't mean the writing is awful or the show isn't as good as it used to be.

Garrett's Neighbor - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

The thread on Reddit about the episode featured 27 comments (two of which were in response to a since-deleted comment) and ten upvotes. The ratings for the episode -- which, incidentally, was the highest rated of the season and won the hour for CBS -- showed that over 5 million people watched.

That doesn't mean there wasn't any merit to their comments, but it's important not to judge how well an episode landed by the feelings of a tiny percentage of the total viewership.

Voodoo Murder - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Why This Episode of Blue Bloods Was Controversial

"Shadowlands"  focused on the theme of the letter vs. the spirit of the law. There were two storylines that some fans found objectionable as vehicles to explore this theme.

Erin Reagan's storyline involved a Black middle schooler who asked during a presentation at the school how Erin would deal with an 18-year-old who had been arrested for drug distribution for the first time and complained about her brother being in jail for that crime.

Some fans objected to Erin spending the hour researching the case, trying to explain the nuances of case law to the girl, and ultimately arranging a visit for her with her brother, at which Anthony revealed they had gotten his sentence changed and he was coming home.

These fans felt that this promoted a "woke agenda" and that the brother should have stayed in jail since he committed a crime.

Frank Doesn't Know What He Can Do - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Similarly, Garrett got his neighbor to meet with Frank by making an appointment under a false name. The woman's car had been impounded after it was stolen, and the thieves used it to store illegal drugs. Frank ultimately got the woman her car back.

Again, fans took to Reddit to complain that Garrett was abusing his position to get a special favor for someone who didn't deserve one.

Two Stories Viewers Didn't Complain About

Tellingly, none of these fans had a problem with Danny's story, which involved a man accidentally killing his non-verbal autistic four-year-old while attempting to do an exorcism that a voodoo practitioner advised.

Autistic characters being killed is a tired TV trope that can perpetuate harmful stereotypes, yet the same viewers who decried the idea of other characters getting justice they didn't think was deserved didn't appear to care about that.

Frank Doesn't Know What He Can Do - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Blue Bloods handled the story of the girl's murder appropriately, with Danny and Baez investigating, but this story was the only one that could have gone in a negative direction. Thank goodness problems with this one were kept to a minimum!

Similarly, the episode also included a story about a cop who thought her daughter was rejected from an elite private school because of racism. Yet, it turned out the institution was prejudiced against cops regardless of their skin color.

This pro-cop story undermines the claim that Blue Bloods suddenly is "woke" and "politically correct," and the same viewers who resented Erin apologizing to a Black teenager for her brother's incarceration didn't complain about it at all.

Contrary To Popular Belief, These Storylines Were All Typical Blue Bloods Fare

Garrett's Neighbor Needs Help - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

One of the things I love about Blue Bloods is that it often shows both sides of an issue without promoting a specific agenda. That was also the case in these stories.

Frank Reagan is a man of principle who tries his best to enforce laws fairly and without compromising his core values.

The story with Garrett was surprising in that Frank doesn't usually go the extra mile for citizens impacted by the law, but it was done purposefully to make a point.

In this woman's case, the law said that the DA's office could decide to impound her vehicle under the circumstances but didn't have to. That led Frank to question Erin as to why she made that choice -- more typical Blue Bloods tropes involving Frank and Erin butting heads over policy issues.

Confronted by a Child - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Similarly, Erin's story wasn't about the brother getting a free pass because of his skin color but about changes in the way such cases were prosecuted since his arrest.

After reviewing the case file, Erin realized that the brother's sentence would not have included jail time if the arrest had happened today. Again, the story didn't judge whether that was right, only that that was the law.

These stories were typical of Blue Bloods, yet some viewers think the series has completely changed. Why is that?

Blue Bloods Appeals to Viewers Across the Political Spectrum, But Is a Favorite of More Conservative Viewers

Racial Discrimination - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Blue Bloods' unapologetic pro-cop stand and the characters' criticisms of bail reform and other criminal justice reform laws in New York, along with the emphasis on family, appeal to conservative viewers.

The family aspects, robust cases, and ability to treat views they disagree with fairly appeal to more liberal viewers. Thus, the series appeals to people across the political spectrum, not just conservatives.

However, some conservative viewers think Blue Bloods is a series for and about people who share their views, and it's not uncommon for them to take to social media to claim that the show has been "poisoned" by liberal ideas whenever a story offers something they disagree with.

This is primarily due to the increased polarization in US society.

People today are far more likely to view those who disagree with their views as enemies who want to destroy their way of life. As a result, sometimes fans are offended by storylines that don't match their perspective, even when other stories in the same episode support their ideas.

Garrett's Neighbor Needs Help - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

One significant difference between Blue Bloods today and Blue Bloods four years ago is that Nicky is no longer part of the cast.

In earlier seasons, Nicky represented the liberal viewpoint, bringing up ideas at the family dinner table that almost no one agreed with. Still, she left at the end of Blue Bloods Season 10.

This change may be what some viewers are reacting to, as it was easier to dismiss Nicky's ideas as ramblings than ideas taken more seriously by the characters.

In any case, Blue Bloods should not be viewed as a political show. Although Frank's storylines are often political, with him dismissing concerns about optics and the need to curry favor with the mayor as irrelevant while his team tries to convince him otherwise, that isn't the main point.

The Emphasis on Family Needs to Return

A Lively Sunday Dinner - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Both conservative and liberal viewers love the emphasis on family, and this is what is central to Blue Bloods.

One disappointing thing is that there are fewer family scenes than there used to be. The family dinner is often an epilogue to the show, with everyone getting together to crack jokes at each other's expense, and some characters don't have stories outside of the family dinner scene.

Religious Christian viewers have often noted that family dinner scenes don't always include saying Grace.

When the episode focuses elsewhere, and the family dinner scene is almost an afterthought, there isn't time for that, and viewers who enjoy it sometimes worry it's been eliminated because it's become unpopular to include religious scenes on TV.

That's not quite it, but the problem is that the family scenes draw viewers in, and lately, they've been shortchanged.

Baez's Ex-Partner - Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 6

Blue Bloods has always been a unique blend of police and family drama, and it needs to remain that way.

This series is the rare thing that can unite viewers of different political stripes during these contentious times, and that may be its legacy more than any specific storyline that it does or doesn't include.

Over to you, Blue Bloods fanatics! Do you think the quality of Blue Bloods Season 14 has been uneven? Do you hope the fan-led efforts to reverse its cancellation succeed, or do you think it's time for it to be put out to pasture?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.

Blue Bloods airs on CBS on Fridays at 10/9c. New episodes drop on Paramount+ the day after they air.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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