Blue Bloods is a favorite crime drama for both cops and civilians.
Over the course of its 11 seasons, the series has often addressed controversial issues from cops' point of view, providing a counterbalance to the more liberal perspective many crime dramas espouse.
But after Blue Bloods Season 11 Episode 6 depicted a more restrained Danny getting in trouble for NOT firing his gun, some viewers wondered whether the series was straying from its original point of view.
Police reform is a contentious topic in the United States, and, understandably, viewers might have some trepidation about Blue Bloods tackling it.
Blue Bloods is one of the most pro-cop shows on network TV, and some people believe the solution to racial tensions and other problems is to make cops the enemy.
So any step toward acknowledging that there are problems in the justice system might feel like a huge step toward demonizing cops. When the usually-hotheaded Danny suddenly shows a ton of restraint, it can leave viewers wondering just what's going on.
Though, the truth is that this story isn't markedly different from what Blue Bloods has always done.
At its heart, the series isn't a political drama like Madam Secretary was. It's a family drama in which the family members are mostly cops and therefore deal with things that cops deal with daily.
Throughout the years, Blue Bloods has always reflected the reality of policing in New York City as accurately as possible while still being entertaining.
One of the things I love about this series is that it provides a police perspective on current events. It's not a perspective I'm exposed to often, and regardless of whether I agree with that perspective on a given issue, I appreciate hearing it.
Blue Bloods Season 11 has been no different.
During the episode in question, Erin provided an alternative perspective on bail reform laws meant to resolve inequities based on economic status: sometimes dangerous people need to be held before trial. Otherwise, they will offend again.
And Danny's story demonstrated that for many cops, the political pressure leaves them stuck in a situation where they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.
Officer Wendell complained that Danny let a violent perp get away with stealing Wendell's gun, but if Danny had shot the man, he might have been accused of using unnecessary violence.
It wasn't about whether people who want to reform the system are right or wrong. It was about how the current political realities affect cops -- specifically the fictional cops that we care about.
And this is hardly the first time that Blue Bloods has taken on controversial issues like police shootings, criminal justice reform, or the imperfections of the current system.
For example, on Blue Bloods Season 6 Episode 22, Frank had to deal with mass outrage when an officer was not indicted for shooting a suspect.
On Blue Bloods Season 7 Episode 6, Frank investigated whether an NYPD whistleblower's claims about the abuse of power were valid.
And on Blue Bloods Season 6 Episode 6, Jamie was accused of police brutality after a clash between cops and protesters.
These are all similar stories, dating back to 2016, as to what Blue Bloods has been airing in 2021.
What's changed is not the types of issues Blue Bloods is willing to explore, but what the political climate related to cops and criminal justice is that people are dealing with.
It's not likely that Blue Bloods will advocate for defunding the police or for the point of view that all cops are evil, but if viewers are worried, they need look no further than Blue Bloods Season 11 Episode 5.
During that story, which pro-police organizations lauded for depicting how anti-cop sentiment affects both cops and their families, Sean dealt with bullies defacing his locker with an anti-cop slur.
And when Sean confronted a teacher known for her hatred of cops, she told him she had changed her attitude after the protests over George Floyd's death.
Sean: Someone put ACAB on my locker. And you teach it.
Ms. Wilson: I used to teach it.
Sean: Excuse me?
Ms. Wilson: Over the summer when the protests began I thought, finally the revolution is here. But then they started looting, torching cars. Those weren't protesters. Those were rioters. And the police risked their lives to keep my block safe. I'm not saying they're all angels, mind you.
Sean: But they're not all devils either. Someone got my locker combination.
Ms. Wilson: Do any of your friends hang out at your locker?
Ms. Wilson: Sean, in case you haven't noticed the world's been turned upside down.
Her words provided a perspective that some viewers may have found offensive.
There has been a lot of controversy over those protests, with some people feeling that any condemnation over looting and property damage is racist, while others make a clear distinction between peaceful protests and riots.
But regardless of whether viewers agreed or disagreed with the teacher's new beliefs, the fact is that Blue Bloods took a clear, firm stance against anti-cop sentiment only a week before exploring the way the political climate affects cops on the job.
And considering that the series employs a consultant who has worked for the NYPD, the series' perspective is not likely to change.
That said, one thing I hope Blue Bloods explores soon is the fact that cops can both acknowledge that the system is imperfect and be committed to their jobs.
Many real-life cops I've talked to don't think proposed reforms are the best way to go and have been heartbroken at some of the injustices they're aware of occur under the current system.
I'd love for Blue Bloods to tackle that type of conflict soon. There is so much polarization and anger around police-related issues that reformers and cops often see each other as the enemy, which needs to change.
Blue Bloods always humanizes cops, so a story like that would be a natural fit.
Your turn, Blue Bloods fanatics.
Do you think Blue Bloods' tone has changed during the course of Season 11? Did Danny's dilemma during Blue Bloods Season 11 Episode 6 make you uncomfortable? What aspects of police life would you like the series to tackle next?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.
And don't forget you can always watch Blue Bloods online here on TV Fanatic if this discussion has got you in the mood for an episode or two.
Blue Bloods airs on CBS on Fridays at 10 PM EST/PST.