At four seasons old, I have found a new favorite show in CBS/Paramount’s Blue Bloods. Centered around NYC Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), the show highlights how a family of cops and lawyers sort through the law, human behavior, and the tricky interactions of family dynamics. Polished at times and gritty at others, Blue Bloods often hinges on the weekly Sunday Dinner when the clan gathers around the table at Frank’s house after mass. It would seem that someone was making a point…
After reviewing the fourth season (out today on DVD), I’ve gone back to watch the seasons in order; I’ve seen them periodically but never in an organized manner. Now, the way that Frank brings his family together once a week, with an emphasis on asking God’s blessing, on breaking bread together, and on hashing out their differences seems even more important as I binge watch. Because, while all of the Reagans work to keep the peace and protect the innocent, how they go about it varies wildly.
On one end of the spectrum are Frank’s father and the former Commissioner, Henry (Len Cariou), and his older son, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), who believe that evil must be punished and the good protected regardless of what lines need to be blurred. On the other end is Erin (Bridget Moynahan), the assistant District attorney, who believes that the letter of the law is what keeps society from self-destructing in on itself. Frank and his younger son, Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), have more of a middle ground approach, balancing the law and an ends-justify-the-means attitude: both of them will break the law or regulations to accomplish something, but have no problem with whatever punishment follows. At times, wives, like Amy Carlson’s portrayal of Danny’s wife, Linda, or children, like Sami Gayle’s portrayal of Erin’s daughter, Nicky, factor into the conversations about what is right or what is justified, around the table.
Around the table, the family works out issues involving their cases and each other, but because they dialogue, they come to some accord. It’s a reminder that if families struggling with how to handle child abductors (season 1) or how to deal with the “blue flu” need to meet to discuss, that something we shouldn’t lose sight of is ‘no technology meals’ or opportunities to actually see and be seen by our spouses and children. [It’s a whole different lesson to recognize the value of the participation of four generations of Reagans in the conversation, where neither the children or the great grandfather figures are treated as too young or too old to have validated opinions.]
But ultimately, Frank’s leadership, both in his dedication to his parish through weekly Mass (and confession) and his direction in how the meal would work, show us something edifying. It’s interesting, because Holy Communion (however it’s translated from church to church) has sometimes been called ‘the Sunday meal’ where followers of Jesus Christ meet around a table set by Jesus’ directives. It’s the place where people should be able to come together, to set aside their differences (agreeing to disagree on somethings) and recognize their commonality: that they are all the children of Frank (or God, if you’re tracking my use of the metaphor). It’s there that partnerships form, that grieving happens, that disagreements can occur in safety, that support happens, that love is shown.
Blue Bloods is a police procedural on the network that has aced police procedurals (CSI, NCIS, The Mentalist, etc.) but this is something more. This is about life, about family, and about faith.