She Would Not Do That
My wife enjoys crime dramas like NCIS, Criminal Minds, Law and Order, and CSI. Except for Law and Order, I do not enjoy these shows, which is fine because it is terrific when couples have different interests. Occasionally, I catch a few minutes, and on rare occasions, the plot keeps me interested enough to watch the rest of the show.
A week ago, I saw something (I think it was Criminal Minds) that got my attention. The authorities tracked down and captured a serial killer. In the investigation, the authorities learned that his mother purchased the gun/bullets, selected the victim, drove him to the crime, helped him dispose of the body, lied to the police, and helped him escape. During the questioning, she defended her actions, stating that she loved her son.
When I saw this, I sat up and said (to the television), “She should not do that!” Now, I understand mothers go to great lengths to support their children, so a mother helping her serial killer son should not be that big of a stretch. After all, we see loads of enabling behavior in every part of society. Honey Boo Boo even made a career out of it. Very true, but I was not buying it.
What was going on in the writer’s mind? They were doing their best to tug at the viewer’s hearts. “Take pity on this poor woman.” “Connect with her plight.” “How dare you look down on her.” “She is a victim, too.”
Yeah… This was, at best, lazy writing and, at worst, a slam against mothers. The problem was that for this plot to work, the viewers needed to connect with the mother’s side while being appalled. I only saw an unrealistic concept. “Son, you did a great job killing that woman. I am very proud of you.” “Thanks, mom.”
I connect with writing difficulties, and it is almost impossible to create something new. Thousands of crime/drama shows, books, and movies have been created. This plot format only supports a few formulas. Son is a serial killer. Famous person is a serial killer. Secret government agent is a serial killer. It should be no shock that a writer eventually tried: Mother is a serial killer enabler.
Alright, Bill. You are so high and mighty. Fix it! Good news. We already did. When my wife and I watched the show, I commented, “They are trying to get us to connect with her. Instead, they should have made her a serial killer. Mommy and son serial killers? I would have believed that.” My wife countered, “Or they could have toned down her help. Buying the bullets? That’s plain stupid. It would have been much better if she only lied to the police. I would have bought that.”
Would our fixes have worked? The problem with our “improvements” is they have already been done. Our criticism highlights the problem that there is only so much a crime/drama television show can do. Aliens? Nope. Grandmother driving a tank into the supermarket? Nope. An FBI demoted to issuing parking tickets? Nope. North Korea sending an army of serial killers, and NCIS capturing them? Nope. All these shows can do is uncover local crimes and solve them with basic tools. This means the plot bedrock is very close to the surface.
Still, I am going to be harsh. There were writers, editors, directors, studio executives, actors/actresses, intelligent women/men, and other random people on that show. Every single person involved could have raised their hand and said, “She would not do that.” Alas, no. They remained silent, and my yelling at the television offered no help.
It is tough being a writer in a crowded field. What kind of plot would I come up with? Gahh. The cat did it. Wow, I hit plot bedrock fast.

You’re the best -Bill
May 01, 2024
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