“Criminal Minds” approaches police work from a different perspective than most police dramas. The psychology of the criminal mind has always fascinated people; this show explores the dark side of the human mind. The team does not always succeed in rescuing the victim; just as in reality unsubs are not always caught or the victims rescued alive.
Why are we so drawn to the unknown? According to Indiana University telecommunications professor Andrew Weaver, his studies indicate that watching horror movies seems to be a social activity. Scary movies are more fun to watch in groups where everyone shares the excitement and fear together. Weaver’s studies seem to indicate that even though we want to experience fear, the need for control of the situation is prominent.
“Criminal Minds” meets our need for the fear factor while still maintaining control over the situation. Each story line is so close to reality that the viewer relates to the victim and feels the fear being inflicted by the killer. The FBI characters are given human faults that serve to humanize them, thus giving the viewer reasons to identify with them.
Reid is the character that I can identify with because of his innocence and vulnerability, especially at the beginning of his career. Reid tends to identify with the victim in most of the cases resulting in the need to distance himself from the situation in order to make unbiased decisions on the profile. Violence still shocks Reid when he first enters a case; some of this results from his personal encounters with serial killers. The most memorable was in the second part of “Revelations” where Reid has been abducted and tortured by Tobias Hankle. Both Reid and Hankle are dealing with their past as the team watches the live feed from the Internet of the torture. Reid is forced to deal with his demon, prescription pain killers, as the series continues as a result of the physical and mental abuse endured.
The creators and writers of “Criminal Minds” have keyed into this primal emotion and used it to create an addicting show dealing with our deepest fears. This formula, used in coordination with the use of real crimes, has made the show a real triumph. The believability of the characters, both FBI and criminals, bring the show to life with outstanding actors delivering incredible performances week after week feeding our need to experience fear.