A Very Special Episode: “Blue Bloods” and Social Liberal Privilege

Blue_Bloods_2010_IntertitleBlue Bloods is so rare one could think it a miracle.

There is a Catholic religious family named Reagan. Tom Selleck, my generation knew him as Magnum P.I., is in the eighth season of attacking racism and supporting the police. Selleck heads a workmanlike cast that has been blessed with outstanding writers. If you have not seen a television program support the sanctity of the confessional, the job of a priest, and show why this is a hard thing to do in a secular society, you are missing some interesting writing.

For a regular television program to routinely show people that are likeable praying is so rare that it seems like a divine intervention. The family discusses and disagrees on issues. The sometimes annoying granddaughter of the family (growing perilously thin my wife says) is the occasional voice of unreason, but not always. She loves her family, they listen to her, and it is good. All sides are heard.

For a social conservative to be treated fairly on contemporary television is a treat. This is not great television, but when the BBC feels the need to make GK Chesterton’s Father Brown “up to date” (and so more dated than the original story), a person has to admire the courage of the show. Blue Bloods dares to express opinions few other shows would know exist.

If you watch all seven seasons now on Netflix, then you will pay for this deviance from the elite norms by the once a season Very Special Episode. On the Very Special Episode, characters will suddenly act out of character, comply with elite opinions, and show that they are not the bigot Catholics we might have feared. In one case, they will actually attack Church teaching with no balance given.

This is most excellent, because then all of us, the regular viewers, could be sad . . . outraged. The elite gate keepers, worried about the show, relax. As a result, the writers get permission to write television for us for multiple seasons because they had earned the right to do so by offending us once. They paid off the bosses and now could do what they wished. The Very Special Episode is the price for the regular show.

Don’t be offended. Whoever designed the Very Special Episode compromise should get a Saint Jude medal. The “lost cause” of social conservative views is not really lost. Blue Bloods is one of the few shows we make that could be shown in the parts of the world that are having babies without much need for censorship. The Very Special Episode allows the elite Hollywood writer to say to their friends that they are not naughty. Meanwhile, the rest of us can ignore the Very Special Episode knowing it is the price we must pay to get a deeply conservative show.

I hope the Hollywood establishment knows we are laughing at them. We get it. Blue Bloods has to check certain boxes to stay on the air, but it does not really care about the boxes. It is our show and we know it. When we get to the Very Special Episode, we fast forward the sermons and get to the good stuff: the toughest boys-in-blue sermons since Jack Webb and Dragnet.

The only thing missing is the hammer with Mark IV Productions.

The joke of these times is that secularism and social liberalism is the last mostly white, almost entirely Eurocentric movement that faces little media criticism. The joy of these times is that like all ideologues, one need only pretend to check the boxes and then the censors and the critics are mollified.

Blue Bloods may be formula television, but it is the most subversive show on Netflix. Social liberal privilege is getting all the shows to agree with you. Social conservatives can take it . . . . we simply endure the platitudes and the Very Special Episode and watch our good, fun, conservative television.

Suckers.


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