C.S.I. used to be one of the few shows I never missed, partly because of one of the main female characters. Sara Sidle was once that rarity on prime time television: a geek and proud of it, had no problem standing up for herself in any situation, obviously loved her job and was extremely good at it despite being in the male dominated field of forensics and law enforcement, and we never heard a word about her personal life. Some people thought she was too cold and analytical, but I thought she provided a much needed counterbalance to Catherine, who frequently seemed to be nothing but a giant bundle of personal issues. So how did it all fall apart?
First they gave her an unrequited crush on her boss, Gil Grissom. She spent nearly two seasons moping about that, and about getting passed over for a promotion (a position which was eliminated before anyone could actually assume it anyway). She couldn’t step away enough to realize that perhaps her inappropriate crush and her general temperament- she had a history of clashing with her boss’s boss- had contributed to losing that opportunity, it had to be some sort of punishment for making Grissom uncomfortable. Then they gave her a drinking problem, which sort of magically disappeared over the summer hiatus except for a single mention in the next season’s premiere. Then we discovered that Sara had spent part of her childhood in the foster care system after her mother murdered her father. There had never been any mention of that before, although she did occasionally become emotional about female victims. I always thought that was a nice, normal touch for someone who works around violent crimes where women are frequently victims- it’s enough to make anyone mad, particularly someone who’s seeing their own gender brutally attacked on a daily basis. But no: Sara had evolved from someone who loved her job because of the science involved to someone who chases down criminals because she’s been a victim in the past. Apparently women aren’t allowed to have altruistic or intellectual motives, it always has to be personal.
In season 6, Sara seemed to have bounced back a little. She seemed to be actually enjoying the work again, even cracking a smile occasionally. I had a little hope that the show was starting on an uptick again… until the season finale, where it was revealed that she and Grissom were dating, and obviously had been for some length of time. That erased all of the progress she’d made over the season in my opinion, because suddenly it was obvious: “Of course she’s happy- she’s finally gotten the guy she was pining over.” There are a million other shows with that premise, but that’s not the show I signed up for, and it’s not a show I care to watch.