Last week, CBS’s popular law enforcement procedural show NCIS chose what is becoming an increasingly common way to establish that a character is the episode’s bad guy by showing him in photos with Republicans.
During the March 4 episode titled, Dressed to Kill, we find that the bad guy du jour is a notorious private investigator named Nick Bodeen (Anthony Palermo). He was killed in the first few minutes of the episode but as viewers learn of his back-story the character is described as a scumbag. In fact, one recurring character called him a “reprobate.”
So, how did NCIS writers drive home to viewers that this PI was a “reprobate”? By showing him acting buddy-buddy in a photograph with President George W. Bush, of course. The obvious message is that if the bad guy is in a photo with a Republican, a tea partier, or conservative, why it’s a cinch he’s no good.
NCIS isn’t the only show to pull this sort of pairing of TV bad guys with big name, right of center politicians. Last month NBC did the same thing on the cloak and dagger series Blacklist starring James Spader.
Spader does a masterful turn as brilliant criminal Raymond Reddington who helps the FBI find worse criminals than he, but in a February 24 episode, one of those bad guys Reddington was hunting was also depicted in photos with conservatives.
During the FBI’s investigation, the week’s big baddie, character Madeline Pratt (Jennifer Ehle), was depicted in photos with Conservatives Alan West and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both politicians are Tea Party favorites.
Certainly NCIS has often been a good American show, celebrating our military, highlighting honor, and doing what is right, but the show has also taken many shots at conservatives, Christians, and Republicans over its 11-year-long run.
In 2009, for instance, the Mark Harmon vehicle featured a show that depicted Christians committing honor killings, even killing innocent Muslims.
The next year the NCIS crew saved the nation from a terrorist band made up of a group of white, Tea Party-like suburbanites.
NCIS spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles, has also indulged this sort of demonization of conservatives and center right politicians. In a 2011 episode, for instance, an evil Venezuelan villain was called the “Karl Rove of Caracas.”
In a 2012 episode, the CBS spinoff pitted an evil Republican against a saintly and well-meaning Democrat. The next year the show gave its audience a group of tea partiers as terrorists and presented healthcare companies as villains.
Note: The original story incorrectly stated NCIS aired on ABC.