Monday 3 October 2011

The September Fictional Criminal Report

I was watching Castle one week and there was a character, a former career criminal, who was being forced back into a life of crime by a much nastier career criminal. The sympathetic criminal was white and the nasty irredeemable criminal was black. Now I immediately jumped to a conclusion, I don't think I need to tell you what it was, but then I wondered if I was correct.

Since being on the wrong side of the pond I tend to see American shows at widely separated timed from when they are first broadcast I pitched this idea to an American friend of mine and they've agreed to compile the statistics for me. I might verify the figures as and when the episodes become available in the UK.

Who's counted
Any speaking criminal character or one who is identified by name. Mooks, in such shows as Hawaii 5.0, aren't counted unless they do something more interesting than pop-up like a paper target on Hogan's Ally.

The criminals are first broken down by nationality into American and non-American and then into white and non-white. European Latin American characters (Argentinians and the like) count as white. This is all going to be subjective so you mileage may vary. The actual criminal categories are as follows:-

Sympathetic: an ex-con forced back into the life by overwhelming circumstances, a person driven to extreme acts by abusive partners or bosses or just someone who snaps in a manner that we can both understand and empathise with.

Unsympathetic: Someone who commits a crime, possibly only one time, out of greed, or love or fear. Somebody who, under different circumstances, might have been us but chose badly and did something morally reprehensible.

Vicious: serial killers, sadistic mobsters, psychopathic gang leaders etc.

Career: mafia soldiers, gangbangers, street punks, people from the wrong area without an alibi.

Evil Brit: I don't think this needs an explanation (except that terrorists from Northern Ireland technically count).

Finally a non-criminal character who turns up with such regularity that I thought it would be interesting to do a crude count. This is the OBW or Obstructive Black Woman; this is a one or two scene character, often in a minor position of power, who gets in the way of our hero and has to be circumvented (and preferably humiliated into the bargain).

September saw the tail end of a couple of series and the start the new seasons. These are the ones my friend watched. The Closer, The Glades, Rizzoli & Isles, Burn Notice, The Protector, Alphas, Castle, Hawaii 5.0, Unforgettable, The Mentalist, Prime Suspect, Person of Interest, Blue Bloods and Against the Wall.

Total number of criminals 87.

Type: Number (percentage of group/percentage of total)
White American: 61
Sympathetic: 8 (13%/9%)
Unsympathetic: 14 (23%/16%)
Vicious: 11 (18%/13%)
Career: 28 (46%/32%)

Non-white American: 15
Sympathetic: 2 (18%/2%)
Unsympathetic: 1 (9%/1%)
Vicious: 1 (9%/1%)
Career: 7 (64%/8%)

White Foriegner: 7
Sympathetic: 2 (29%/2%)
Unsympathetic: - (-/-)
Vicious: 2 (29%/2%)
Career: 3 (43%/3%)

Non-white Foriegner: 4
Sympathetic: - (-/-)
Unsympathetic: - (-/-)
Vicious: 1 (25%/1%)
Career: 3 (75%/3%)

There were 4 Evil Brits making them 5% of all criminals but this is probably an artefact of Alphas which does love itself some Evil Brit.

There were also 4 Obstructive Black Women (counting the new Lieutenant in Castle only once).

Conclusions: the sample size is too low for anything to definitely emerge, I will point out that the vast majority of criminals are white but non-white criminals are much more likely to be career criminals than anything else.


Chewbacca said...


Anonymous said...


But to save you the embarassment of that being your only comment to such a worthy post: Good observation, and I'd be inetersted to see how the figures pan out over a longer period/more significant sample size.

I'd also like to see a count of OWWs (Obstructive White Women) as well, as (a) if it goes the way I think we both expect, having the actual figures to compare would be useful, and (b) you never know, we *might* be pleasantly surprised...

Ideally we should be also counting obstructive males (possibly split by race as well, although I suspect there are so few of them it's not worth it).

This is the kind of stuff Kate used to do so well, until dealing with the fallout finally overwhelmed her. =:o{