5 Unrealistic Truths Crime Shows Offer Us

Prime time crime. Those three words are dominating the television industry and outliving any other genre. Crime shows simply won’t die because of the ultimate human mystery of murder leave us hanging in suspense and gripping the edge of our seat. Crime fiction has been popular in every culture for centuries, mainly because it contains the highest stake one can ever have: human life.

Crime shows such as CSI are shown all over the world, and are currently being watched by thousands of people around the globe. What other series can remake itself into a separate show just by changing the location? CSI can. If you don’t like CSI:Miami, why not check out CSI: New York. Or, if you really want to go out on a limb, why not switch it up and watch CSI: Las Vegas?

Whilst you are consuming so much crime time, have you ever stopped and wondered what it is actually teaching you? Like most television shows based on non-fictional careers, one would think here must be some underlying life lessons embedded throughout an episode. Or, perhaps there’s some informative footage in there that will teach you about forensic science and crime investigation? Well, no. There are, however, some incredibly ridiculous and exaggerated points that we can take out of crime shows. I’ve narrowed it down to the top 5:

5. Crystal Clear CCTV Footage

Whether the criminal is robbing a bank, holding up a corner store, or holding someone at gunpoint, the crime can always be solved from the CCTV footage. If you take the average workplace surveillance camera, you will more than likely see a blurry, grainy, and fairly unfocused visual. Half of the time they aren’t even working properly, and aren’t actually recording anything. Now, take a look at a scene from Criminal Minds; the security camera’s footage is perfectly clear and shows every detail in absolute precision. You can even see an ant crawling across the floor. This footage always seems to be zoomed in on a ridiculous scale, so the viewer can practically study the thread count on the suspect’s shirt. Not to mention the criminal just happens to be right in the line of vision from the security camera. While technology is getting better each day, this just isn’t practical in real life.

4. Cops From Project Runway

female cop
Rizzoli & Isles

Think Veronica Mars and The Mentalist; what do these shows have in common? The protagonist is flawless and picture perfect. There are no ugly cops. Whilst it is common to have beautiful actors playing main roles, the field of criminology has been so unrealistically portrayed as a fancy, sophisticated and upper-class career, when in reality it just isn’t. Criminologists, forensics, and policemen and women have extremely hard and dirty jobs. For some reason, our beloved crime shows feel the need to make it more glamorous and inspirational. If you watch an episode of CSI: Miami, you will see that most of the men wear white suits with brightly coloured shirts, surely that isn’t convenient when going to a blood-splattered murder scene. Also, why do the women detectives have stylish hair-dos and wear low-cut tops and tight jeans whilst on the scene?

3. Labs Aren’t Night Clubs

It’s night time, it’s dark inside the room and fluorescent lights shine brightly in the background. Blue UV lights are shining above your head and fast-paced music is whirling around you. To your shock, you realise you aren’t in your favourite nightclub on a Saturday night, and that you’re actually in a forensic lab. Our much-loved crime shows, such as Bones and NCIS portray these labs in a funky, upbeat way for visual enhancement. Have you ever noticed the bottles, test tubes, and beacons in the background of these shows? Most of the time they are illuminated with bright colours, or with subtle blue or red highlights against the dim room. This just isn’t realistic, not to mention the amount of crime scene investigation that takes place after the sun has gone down. There are countless scenes where the detective uses a flashlight to scope around the scene of a murder at midnight… Do yourself a favour and come back in the morning.

2. Hummers: The Workplace Vehicle

horatio caine hummer
CSI:Miami

What more can I say than ‘Lieutenant Horatio Caine’? Played by David Caruso in CSI, Horatio’s best friend and sidekick is his H3 Hummer. Crime shows often depict the cops and detectives speeding down the highway in the latest sports car, or climbing in and out of their sturdy hummer. At a time of environmental consciousness, why the hummers? Obviously, because such a car is needed to make the cop look tough and masculine, whilst getting him through the obstacles of making it from A to B. Plus, why not make the show similar to a scene off Grand Theft Auto… just to make things more realistic.

1. Every Case Gets Solved

It would be great if this were real, unfortunately it is far from the truth. In fact, only 57% of murder crimes in New York last year were actually solved. If we look at popular crime shows, however, the detective team manages to solve every crime in sixty minutes… with ad breaks. Con artists? Serial killers? Massive cross-country escapes? Not a problem. Get a couple of good-looking minds together and the needed evidence is bound to show up. This ridiculous evidence, like how fingerprints were found at the crime scene (because the criminal is that unintelligent), and then were identified and processed by the lab in a matter of hours (this would usually take days or weeks) is a prime example of why crime shows are teaching us everything that is wrong with exaggerated television.

So, if your looking to numb your intelligence a bit further and escape to a ‘real’ world of street crime, look no further than crime shows.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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21 Comments

  1. Your forth one is hilarious. Some do look like they are on a catwalk hahaha

  2. Austin Bender

    The shows are silly if taken too seriously, especially CSI: Miami. That show made no sense. I just started watching the show The Killing, which offers a pretty realistic view for a crime show, at least more realistic then the competition. It’s also nice because, while many of the actors are good looking, they aren’t covered in a ton of makeup.

    I too find it funny how crime shows find fingerprints in the oddest places or find two partials, then combine them and instantly find the culprit. It can be very difficult to match fingerprints, unless there is a scar or something to make it stand out. While no two fingerprints are the same, many are pretty close.

    Anyways, great article.

  3. Never been a fan of crime shows generally, but The Mentalist is one I’ve found interesting because I find its the one show that reveals a lot about human nature.

  4. Jordan

    This post was hilarious – very well written and some great points are brought up! I laughed at n5. My boyfriend once had his laptop stolen from a fast food restaurant – when we went over the footage we saw who stole it, but the Police couldn’t recognize them, so we were stuck! Byebyye laptop.
    Sooo true, and I don’t think they show the cases that can’t be solved because then watching the show would be demoralizing.

  5. Kelsey Clark

    Every crime can be solved and everyone is a babe! It’s so hilariously true. Good article.

  6. Dominique Kollie

    This was great! The first thing my Criminal Science professor said in class was “If you expect this to be a plot breakdown of CSI, leave.”

  7. Kathryn Talbot

    My favourite recurring scene is where they ‘enhance the footage’ to reveal a reflection in someone’s glasses, or a random footprint. Top points if the footage is from an old phone, photo or CCTV camera. Ridiculous.

    Love the article.

    • Jemma Baddock

      Haha, or when you can see evidence from the CCTV footage from a window reflection or something, so ridiculous. Thankyou!

  8. Michelle Webb

    Love this article!

  9. Spencer

    I enjoy this a lot, and agree totally. I hadn’t actually thought about how much the labs seem to mimic night clubs, I’m definitely going to remember that on my next CSI binge!

  10. Tanya Kaur

    I love your comment about CSI becoming a completely new show just by changing location.

    Producers of TV love sensationalising topics such as crime and even hospitalisation to make them appeal to wider audiences, that is how they get their profits. Hence they feel the need to take some license at the expense of viewers.

    An interesting read with some added humour.

    • Jemma Baddock

      Thanks, Tanya. It’s crazy to think how much profit the CSI franchise has created just by changing the location to create a ‘new’ show.

  11. Clean up your English, dumbo If your looking to numb your intelligence–you write. It’s if YOU’RE looking—I’m so tired of this mistake.

    • Do you feel better about yourself now? Haha get a life instead of commenting on articles that are a year old at 3am.

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