It’s Okay, Women Are Cheap – We’ll Just Get Another

It was recently disclosed that AJ Cook, who plays Jennifer (JJ) Jareau on on CBS’s Criminal Minds, will not be returning for their next season. Her option has not been picked up, as it were. On top of this, Paget Brewster’s (Emily Prentiss) offer was for a reduced role in the upcoming season.

Rumors abound that this is a financial decision. Rumor also has it that JJ’s character will be replaced with another woman. I suppose we’re supposed to be comforted by that, but honestly, all that leads me to believe is that the thought process was along the lines of:

1) We need to trim the budget.
2) We can’t touch the guys. They’re the GUYS.
3) Garcia’s got a little sumpin-sumpin UST with Morgan, Kirsten’s safe.
4) I’ll bet we could get someone younger and cheaper for AJ’s role. Perfect, as we need to work on the male 18-34 anyway! Always, always!
5) Is a female profiler really believable? Not full time, pfft. Let’s cut Paget back a little.

Oooookay. Right. So of an ensemble cast composed of four men and three women, the two impacted by these financial decisions happen to be female. Yay for keeping Kirsten Vangsness employed because I ADORE her and her character. Boo for the rest of it.

Frankly, I’d be upset to see this happen to any of the cast. Really, I swear. (But not really, really.) And my thoughts on the spin-off are … not positive. But my hackles are up on this situation, way up. In full disclosure, I should mention that several years ago one of my, uh, company’s branch offices decided it was a grand idea to let go three (THREE!) women in order to keep a grossly overcompensated man fat and happy, so I could be knee-jerking. By the way, I am not implying the male portion of the cast is grossly overcompensated, though I would be surprised if any of them made less than the women currently/formerly in the cast. So, financially speaking, CBS likely could save more money by “creatively managing” the male ensemble members than the female.

So, am I knee-jerking? I encourage you to talk amongst yourselves. ;)

Comments

  1. says

    You’re not knee-jerking. CBS at first said it was financial, then they said it was creative. We got a link Maria will probably feature soon for LOGI which says the show is perceived as a “guy show” so they couldn’t dump any of the guys. You know who they could totally dump? Joe Mantegna’s character. Sorry, because I really like the actor, but the best eps of the entire series were the ones between Patinkin’s flaky departure and Mantegna’s arrival. Because that extra profiler character is simply not needed. They seem to think that character represents something Hotch doesn’t, but they end up being 90% redundant.

    There’s a petition.

  2. sbg says

    CM is a guy show? I wish I’d have known. ;)

    I actually agree re: Mantengna. I do like him, but Rossi has never grown on me. Also, I was not upset when Patinkin left – I didn’t much care for Gideon, either. I found him alarmingly maudlin at times. ;)

    (PS, I’m sorry I didn’t see you had a post in the works…I read someone poo-pooing the feminist bent of that petition and got all riled.)

  3. says

    Definitely not knee-jerking. I’m pissed, too. The huge reason I love CM is because of the way the female characters are handled. They’re allowed to be both feminine AND competent, the women are shown to be friends outside of work and not competitive or backstabby, and I’m pretty sure the show passes the Bechdel test with reasonable regularity. Plus of the core characters, there’s almost 50-50 gender split! If they have to cut someone for financial reasons, they could get rid of Hotch or Rossi, because I always saw those two as vaguely redundant. Morgan and Reid are both unique characters in their own right, but Hotch and Rossi come off as stock White Man In Charge types to me. Does the show really need both?

    Oh, and it’s a guy show? I’m a woman; my mom and I love it, my brother thinks it’s ok, and my husband hates it. “Guy show” my womanly ass. Not in our houses.

  4. says

    Silly women, don’t you know that *every* show is a guy show? Unless the show is about girly girls doing girly things, it must be a guy show. And they *always* need to work on the male 18-34 demographic, there is no other demographic that really, truly counts.

    The fact that the shows are produced by guys who are convinced, when they look in the mirror, that they don’t look a day over 33 is purely coincidental. Women are just so *emotional*.

  5. SunlessNick says

    You know who they could totally dump? Joe Mantegna’s character.

    And I reckon they’d save at least as much as they would on Brewster and Cook put together. Or if they’d have to trim someone’s episodes too, what about Hotch’s? He has an definite, plot-created reason to spend less time at the unit.

    I’ve seen this decision defended on the grounds of Prentiss and JJ being underdeveloped compared to the male characters, but to be honest, I rather see that as more prosecution, not a defence.

    I’ll bet we could get someone younger and cheaper for AJ’s role.

    I’ve also read some people fearing that because JJ has been established as a tough person – while she may not go into the field as much as the others, she can take the ugly side of the job without having to be protected or comforted – she’s going to be replaced with a character who needs one or both.

  6. sbg says

    They’re allowed to be both feminine AND competent, the women are shown to be friends outside of work and not competitive or backstabby, and I’m pretty sure the show passes the Bechdel test with reasonable regularity.

    Oh, I think it does, and you’re totally right, Jadelyn.

    Silly women, don’t you know that *every* show is a guy show? Unless the show is about girly girls doing girly things, it must be a guy show.

    But wait. What about that time that JJ, Prentiss and Garcia all went shoe shopping and got mani/pedis and giggled a lot? ;)

    I’ve seen this decision defended on the grounds of Prentiss and JJ being underdeveloped compared to the male characters, but to be honest, I rather see that as more prosecution, not a defence.

    I agree with this so hard.

  7. Nialla says

    One reason I started watching Criminal Minds, despite its relatively high “ick factor” for a TV show, is the female characters.

    First off, characters. It’s still rare to have shows with multiple female characters, and it’s even rarer to have one or more of them not be clingy or bitchy or incompetent or sleeping with the male lead. With this show, we got relatively “real” females instead of the cliche Token Girl who lives to serve as the love interest.

    I was actually shocked that they wrote in an actress’ pregnancy instead of writing around it as they normally do. I also found it very interesting to see JJ not willing to say she was involved with her cop boyfriend for nearly a year, while he was the one pushing for public declarations. That’s a bit different from the way things normally go.

    I echo Nick’s comment, because who exactly leaves characters “undeveloped” if not the writers? They’re pointing the finger at the problem, but they’d rather fix it by doing away with the issue completely? And contrary to their opinion, it’s not a “guy show” it’s got something for everyone. If this is a sign they’re going to go the tried and true route of attracting young males — stuff going boom — then it’s time for me to change the channel.

    From what I’m reading in today’s follow-up stories, it appears the cast members on Twitter (looks like all except Shemar Moore are there) are tweeting in unison about a petition as well another mentioning that Joe Mantegna has said TPTB are paying close attention to the feedback received here.

    Online petitions don’t really get much attention, but if this is an established fansite TPTB are visiting, then I think that does have the potential to make an impact. Certainly can’t hurt, just as long as fans stay respectful. I know that’s got a snowball’s chance, but hopefully the signal won’t get lost in the noise.

  8. Nialla says

    Hmm. Appears I fail at coding too. When did we lose the editing window of “Oh crap! opportunity? I must have dozed off or something.

  9. says

    SBG, I don’t have a post, it’s just likely to go up in a LOGI post. It’s all good.

    If they have to cut someone for financial reasons, they could get rid of Hotch or Rossi, because I always saw those two as vaguely redundant.

    Huh, glad to find it’s not just me.

    Or if they’d have to trim someone’s episodes too, what about Hotch’s? He has an definite, plot-created reason to spend less time at the unit.

    Much as I like him, I’d totally agree to this.

    I’ve seen this decision defended on the grounds of Prentiss and JJ being underdeveloped compared to the male characters, but to be honest, I rather see that as more prosecution, not a defence.

    What, they think someone OTHER than the writers are responsible for them not being developed? Oh, wait – I forget, there are people with college degrees who think the *actors* can be somehow responsible for this stuff, as if entire shows are giant improv sessions.

    she can take the ugly side of the job without having to be protected or comforted – she’s going to be replaced with a character who needs one or both.

    Gross.

    When did we lose the editing window of “Oh crap! opportunity? I must have dozed off or something.

    ‘Bout two years ago. Sadly, it started screwing up how the site loaded. :D

  10. Nialla says

    When did we lose the editing window of “Oh crap! opportunity? I must have dozed off or something.

    ‘Bout two years ago. Sadly, it started screwing up how the site loaded. :D

    I guess I had managed to avoid the “Oh crap!” moments since then, or was so loopy on meds I didn’t notice. ;)

  11. Nialla says

    Don’t worry, Nialla, I gotcha edited. ;)

    And five gold stars for your comment. Hee hee.

    Danke for the edit. I should learn not to post while on meds, but since that’s 24/7, I’ve learned to post dangerously. ;)

    I’m just waiting for the next excuse. We’ve covered financial and then creative reasons after, pardon the pun, no one bought the first reason. Next up, “Don’t worry, we’ll be hiring a hot young thing!”

  12. sbg says

    Hey, last week I sent an email to all Board members while … loopy on muscle relaxants. Not advised.

    And you missed “kick ass chick” in your description of potential new female cast member.

  13. SunlessNick says

    Thankyou for the edit Sbg.

    Gross.

    To be fair, I know that’s what’s going to happen. I just fear it.

  14. Robin says

    Aw, man. I like JJ, particularly her big-sisterly relationship with Reid. AJ Cook is actually the reason I started watching the show in the first place because I followed her over from Tru Calling. (Don’t judge me.)

    At this point, I’d kind of hate to see anyone go, but I agree that Hotch has a legitimate reason to be around less (Jack), and he and Rossi are occasionally redundant. Plus, Dave was already retired before he came back to replace Gideon, so he could easily do so again and maybe show up as a consultant now and then. I could maybe see scaling back JJ so that she could spend more time with her baby, but what in the world is their excuse for Prentiss? As a character, she doesn’t have much of a life outside of her job. Which, yes, makes her underdeveloped, but also doesn’t provide a logical reason for her to not be there. I hope they don’t give her a major injury or psychological problems or something. That would feel like a cop-out. I mean, they integrated Gubler’s real-life injury into Reid’s story a couple years back and he was still in every episode.

  15. sbg says

    Nick, your fear is legit. No matter how awesome a PTB is, there is always an exec somewhere who thinks something could be bet-ter with more stereotypes, etc.

    Robin, what I fear for Prentiss is some kind of “what I really want out of life is a family” totally OOC epiphany, because we all know that at the heart of it women would rather stay at home with an apron on*.

    *And some do, which is perfectly wonderful. I don’t buy it for Prentiss, which is why I am terrified. But I suppose that would be better than making her a murderer. They already did that with Elle. ;)

  16. says

    But I suppose that would be better than making her a murderer. They already did that with Elle.

    You know, at least with Elle:

    –She’d talked about watching sex offenders walk and how frustrated it made her.
    –Gideon and Hotch had a LOT of fault in why she got shot AND in how they managed her return to work. I can go into more detail if anyone disagrees, but I think the writers meant us to see them making wrong calls, and that contributing to her responses to the work.
    –The shooting itself was traumatic as hell. She remembered the guy sticking his hands into her wound to write on the walls with her blood, ffs.

    So when she kinda lost it and killed a sex offender who was getting away with it, I totally sympathized. I thought anyone might have done what she did, under the circumstances, and even disagreed with Hotch’s later “She made her choice” attitude – she WAS making choices and she WAS responsible, but she was also clearly running on adrenaline, and that reduces your perceptions of your choices down to fight or flight. She either had to shoot him or leave, and if she left, he and lots more like him would just keep getting away with it. Her choice – to kill an unrepentant serial rapist who thought he was doing women a favor – was noble in that sense. She was looking out for fellow victims and… I couldn’t fault her the way Hotch did.

    Sorry to go on so long, but my point is: there’s NOTHING like this set up for Prentiss. There’s really NO reason they can give about why she’d go part-time at the BAU that I would buy. Because we don’t know anything about her but this job. All we know is her complicated relationship with her mom and whatever that deal was with her teenage friends in that ep with Carmen Argenziano, and it wasn’t very clear, nor very revealing of who she is and what drives her.

  17. sbg says

    Oh, I wasn’t saying they did Elle wrong. As horrible and heartbreaking as it was, it felt absolutely plausible and real to me, that she’d react that way. Of course she would, and of course she wasn’t okay to return to work. Everyone on the team had to have seen it long before she pulled the trigger – it’s their JOB to know people – so in a sense, they all failed her.

    They wouldn’t do it for Prentiss anyway, and I hardly think they’d take the time to concoct something similar to drive her to it. The kid/family thing, though – a few years ago she offered to take in that teenage girl whose family was murdered. The writers might think they have the perfect precedent.

  18. SunlessNick says

    Nick, your fear is legit. No matter how awesome a PTB is, there is always an exec somewhere who thinks something could be bet-ter with more stereotypes, etc.

    It’s what they did with her temporary replacement – admittedly, I think the point was that were meant to see the temp as not as good at that job as JJ. But since they’re keen to portray this as freshening up the show, I’m betting the next agent will be a fresh-faced newbie. And with a newbie, it’ll be very easy to go into “unprepared for the job’s ugliness” rut.

  19. says

    The kid/family thing, though – a few years ago she offered to take in that teenage girl whose family was murdered. The writers might think they have the perfect precedent.

    Gah, yes, and JJ told her she’d be a good parent if she ever decided to do it. Between that and her possession of a womb, they could well assume they have everything in place. I vomit.

    But since they’re keen to portray this as freshening up the show, I’m betting the next agent will be a fresh-faced newbie. And with a newbie, it’ll be very easy to go into “unprepared for the job’s ugliness” rut.

    And I wonder whose shoulder she’ll end up crying on. *shudder*

  20. says

    “But wait. What about that time that JJ, Prentiss and Garcia all went shoe shopping and got mani/pedis and giggled a lot?”

    Well…there was that one time they all went out for drinks…and showed Brad what an FBI badge looks like. :P

    “But since they’re keen to portray this as freshening up the show, I’m betting the next agent will be a fresh-faced newbie.”

    Oh, god. ‘cuz that was the best part of Elle’s character…NOT.

    And Jennifer, thank you so much for linking to the petition.

    If anyone wants to and hasn’t already – or hey! even if you already have, the point is to flood her voicemail after all – fans are calling Nina Tassler and letting her know what we think of this decision. It’s important to make it clear that we want both actresses back full time: Paget hasn’t signed a contract yet, we certainly don’t want them to decide to keep AJ and then dump Paget.

    Nina Tassler’s number is (818) 655-1400

    That IS the number that her assistant Lori answers. If you call tonight it will go to voicemail. If you call tomorrow Lori may answer, in which case politely but firmly insist on talking Ms. Tassler.

    More information can be found at the facebook group, the Criminal Minds Fanatic Blog, at the twitter hashtag #SavetheCMLadies, and at the LJ communities criminalxminds and savecm. There are also emails and twitter accounts for CBS and their advertisers somewhere in all that.

    (in fact, it’s really best to try all five places – we are trying to coordinate, but the efforts are rather scattered)

    Jill, who runs the CMF blog, says she will be providing us Les Moonvies direct number tomorrow. She is also collecting comments at her blog and passing them along to key people at CBS.

    I know it’s a long shot, but fans were able to manage to save Thomas Gibson last year* so it is a possibility.

    *and yes, that apparently was a real possibility. I didn’t think so either, but Jill says it was, and I believe her. I strongly suspect that last years success is part of the reason for timing of this announcement. (or, non-announcement, as it seems like the story was semi-leaked)

  21. says

    Wow, Mickle, you’re all over this! Yay, and thanks for all that info.

    Didn’t know they were really thinking about dumping Hotch last year, but I felt a lot of what we were hearing in the whole mess was bullshit, and that would explain that feeling.

  22. jennygadget says

    you are welcome! and thanks again for mentioning the petition – and for the post sbg! the more ppl hear about this, the better chance we will have.

    (and to clarify, re: calling Nina Tassler – you don’t need to insist on talking to her personally – that’s never going to happen anyway – just don’t let Lori transfer you)

    -and with that I am off to find numbers to call for the advertisers…

  23. SunlessNick says

    CBS are also dumping Melina Kanakaredes from CSI New York and Liz Vassey from CSI Original. (In Kanakaredes’s case, she apparently left after not getting the raise she was angling for; they’re replacing her with Sela Ward).

    No disrespect to Sela Ward, but it looks CBS thinks the women are interchangeable as well as cheap.

    A comment at TWoP, from a user called Special, sums up my feeling about the changes at Criminal Minds:

    I mean, minus J.J. and Prentiss, you have three white men, a black man, and the ‘evil is icky’ geek woman. I do not like that set up, gender-wise. I do not want to watch a show that is mostly about violence against women without a bad-ass woman crimefighter.

    I don’t like the thought of that either.

    • jennygadget says

      What in heaven’s name does CBS think they are doing? At this point it’s clearly systematic and not just “accidental” sexism. Are they angling to become the Spike TV of the major three or something?

      (judging by their fall promo, quite possibly…)

      • sbg says

        But they’re replacing at least two of the canned women!! See, it all works out!

        You just hate men.

        *cough*

        Never mind. On a sugar rush.

      • sbg says

        Actually, you know what? CBS also cancelled Ghost Whisperer, despite that show still pulling decent ratings. The only thing I know about that show is its main character is female. Don’t know if she’s strong or anything…

    • Nialla says

      That comment sums up my feelings pretty well too. Though I think another aspect that bugs me is that while I love Garcia, she mostly “stays home” to help the menfolk solve crime. She has been out in the field, but she’s not a field agent.

      • says

        Now, that’s a great observation. As many female stereotypes as she defies (geeky, fat and non-conformist yet attractive, witty), she IS kept out of the action – like a secretary.

        Lord have mercy, this is why we need DOZENS MORE FEMALE CHARACTERS THAN WE ALREADY HAVE. Because we have so few female characters out doing the main action like the men, even female bosses with huge power over men can seem stereotyped by not being in the action. It’s amazing how hard it is NOT to set up a potential stereotype simply because every female character makes ONE VERY LOUD STATEMENT on women because she’s so relatively rare.

      • jennygadget says

        Yeah, I was trying to figure out the logic of the decision when I first heard about it, and I was complaining to my brother about it all and he said something like:

        him: “So, they are getting rid of two of the women but keeping the one that isn’t scary?”

        me: *light bulb*

        Not that Garcia can’t be scary in her own way when she is pissed, but…yeah. Seriously CBS, issues much?

  24. says

    I have to agree. I love Prentiss and Elle for different reasons. Elle was really passionate because she identified with the victims and wanted to give them the justice they couldn’t pursue (legally) for themselves. Prentiss has that compartmentalizing ability that blows stereotypes of feminine sensitivity and emotionalism out of the water.

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