One of my favorite shows on television is CBS’ Criminal Minds. It is an outstanding drama with an outstanding cast that is going into its sixth year on the air.
This week, it was announced that Criminal Minds’ A.J. Cook was dropped from the show. The number of episodes that castmate Paget Brewster is scheduled to appear in have been severely reduced.
The initial press about this cited “financial reasons” for dropping Cook’s character of “JJ” from the poplar procedural drama. CBS has since since backpedaled and says that the changes were made for “creative reasons.” On her Twitter account, Paget Brewster confirms the reasons are indeed financial, not creative.
And the fans, myself included, are livid.
Criminal Minds has an incredible ensemble cast. It is the chemistry of this group that really makes the show work. Having strong women showing that they can do a difficult and dangerous job not only offers great role models, but is more realistic in its portrayal of the “real” world.
Cutting the characters of “JJ” and Prentiss would leave Garcia (played by Kirsten Vangsness) as the lone female regular. And because Garcia’s character is technically a data analyst and not an active agent like JJ and Prentiss, it could be perceived that the remaining female character is in a more servile, less equal role compared to the men in the cast (none of whom are being cut).
So, for most fans, the network’s actions in cutting just the female cast members are being seen as pretty sexist. Especially as Entertainment President Nina Tassler has been quoted as saying about the renewal of Charlie Sheen’s lucrative contract, “I think we value our stars and our actors.”
CBS has also announced plans for a spin off from Criminal Minds. The pilot, that aired as an episode of the show and included the regular cast, was viewed by many fans as lacking the chemistry of the original. Some fans are concerned that the costs saved by salaries for Cook and Brewster will go to the new, lesser quality spin off instead.
If finances are a problem, CBS could definitely earn additional income by making episodes of the show available for streaming, download and purchase. Fans of the show have long complained that, unlike many of CBS’ shows, Criminal Minds episodes could not be viewed on CBS.com or sites like Hulu (and thus earning advertising revenue). Nor were episodes available for purchase. They have only recently become available for iTunes and are still not available on Amazon’s Video On Demand service. (Amazon is my preferred provider because I can purchase and watch on my large screen HD TV via my Roku Player. Much better than the iPod screen, LOL!)
Just like the reaction when CBS cancelled the sci-fi drama Jericho, the fans have quickly gathered together to try to save these two beloved characters.
- There is now a Save the CM Ladies blog at Tumblr. There is also a petition on the site that fans can sign. The site also has contact info for CBS so you can join the protest.
- The fans’ reactions are making the news at sites like TV Guide. Check out the number of comments on some of these stories. Simply amazing!
- Fans of the show who are on Twitter can follow @SavetheCMLadies and participate in “Tweetflashes,” where everyone tweets at the same time with the same hashtag (a keyword or phrase preceded by a # sign). The goal is to get #SavetheCMLadies hashtag to “trend” and become one of the top topics on Twitter.
- There is even a plan to mimic the Save Jericho campaign of sending peanuts to CBS, this time by sending lipstick to CBS’ Nina Tassler.
- There is a group page for the effort called Save the Girls, Save the Team, Save the Show – Criminal Minds Campaign at Facebook which plans to send decorated manila folders.
And if there seems to be an impassioned rush to the Save the CM Ladies Campaign, it is with good reason. Filming on the show is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks. Fans are afraid that if the show resumes production without A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster, there will be no chance of saving the characters.
Any and all support is appreciated, but it needs to be done quickly. You can find more info at any of the sites listed above.