Unpacking America’s most beloved crime show

“Criminal Minds” has been acclaimed as one of the most intricate crime shows on TV

The cast of “Criminal Minds” has been praised as a perfect combination
of variety of personality and individuality, allowing for a truly memorable cast

The cast of “Criminal Minds” has been praised as a perfect combination of variety of personality and individuality, allowing for a truly memorable cast

Emily Bebenek, Staff Writer

It seems like every time I open my TikTok, my For You page blasts me with yet another Spencer Reid or Aaron Hotchner montage. If you don’t know these two characters, I feel sorry for you. They belong to the incredible 15-season story of “profilers” at the fictional Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. “Criminal Minds” is perhaps one of the most famous crime TV shows, and it is definitely one of my favorite shows to binge-watch (though I’m yet to get through all 324 episodes in one sitting). You might be wondering, ‘why is a nice, quiet girl so fascinated by the stories of serial killers, rapists, kidnappers and other criminals?’ In fact, why are hundreds of thousands across America fascinated by it?

For me, the answer is simple. Not only do I love watching those awful creeps get their due justice (especially when it’s served by such an attractive team of FBI agents and analysts), but I also love seeing how the crimes unfold. It’s the same reason that I love reading the plots of horror movies despite never having the courage to watch them. Some part of me feels that if I pay close enough attention to these crimes and notice all the mistakes and vulnerabilities of the victims, that might be enough to prevent the same thing from happening to me. It’s silly and stupid and a little bit naïve, but it’s not irrational. Every day, we hear more and more stories about people’s tragedies, especially women. In the moment, it’s easy enough to write these instances off as distant occurrences, but the reality is that these things can happen to anyone. In fact, a common line for the families of the victims on the show is something along the lines of: “This is the kind of thing that happens to other people.”

Another less depressing reason for my viewing is that I am also fascinated by the psychology of such sick individuals. What makes a person do that? How do they justify their unforgivable actions?

One of the great things about Criminal Minds is that they often frame the narrative so that you can sympathize with both the BAU team and the perpetrator (which they commonly refer to as the “unsub,” short for “unknown subject”). In fact, some of the episodes even trick you into thinking that the unsub is someone completely different and leave you stunned by the reveals.

And of course, there are the wonderful storylines between the main characters of the cast. There’s romance, chosen family, witty remarks and beautiful love for each other, which we see unfold and evolve through even the darkest times and most disturbing cases. It’s empowering to see that these characters can remain pure of heart and eager to do good in the face of so much hate, anger and fear.

All of these reasons explain why so many people have such a fierce love for this show. As I mentioned, “Criminal Minds” is all over TikTok (especially since actors like Thomas Gibson [Aaron Hotchner], Kirsten Vangsness [Penelope Garcia] and Mandy Patinkin [Jason Gideon] have their own thriving TikTok accounts). In fact, many people think that the show’s recent popularity on TikTok is what prompted the rumor of a sixteenth season. Nothing is confirmed yet — the project seems to be in the early stages — but just the possibility of more “Criminal Minds” was enough to blow up my For You page with different theories on casting and plot.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend watching this show. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe it’ll even show up on your For You page, too!