TV Guide Issues ‘Criminal Minds’ Gross-Out Warning: ‘Don’t Eat’ Before Watching [Opinion]

Criminal Minds hasn’t inspired much TV news recently since Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore are no longer part of the cast. Overall, casting changes have been the biggest news coming from the 13-year-old TV show this year. Now the new warning from TV Guide about the plot doesn’t sound positive.

Will TV Guide’s gross-out warning not to eat before watching Criminal Minds tonight help or hurt the already flagging ratings?

“Do yourself a favor and don’t eat too soon before this week’s episode of Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds fans are fairly accustomed to gore, so why does TV Guide think they will be so shocked? What does TV Guide think could possibly gross out the remnant of Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, and A.J. Cook fans still watching the show? What are those writers up to now, without Thomas Gibson to keep them in line?

Criminal Minds has lost Thomas Gibson, and Shemar Moore, but first they lost Mandy Patinkin, who complained to New York Magazine in 2012 that Criminal Minds presented too much TV violence against women.

“I thought [Criminal Minds] was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year.”

Well, the good news for Mandy Patinkin is this week’s Criminal Minds features an unsub who is choosing male victims, not women. It is doubtful though that Mandy Patinkin would approve of the behavior of the latest unsub either. Neither would Shemar Moore or Thomas Gibson for that matter. It’s going to be an uncomfortable topic, according to TV Guide, that might gross out some viewers.

The Criminal Minds unsub this week is a really sick individual. Is it time to revisit Mandy Patinkin’s concerns?

Criminal Minds is challenging a huge taboo, as TV Guide infers. Perhaps this is an effort to recapture the ratings they had in their 11-year heyday. Before Shemar Moore left at the end of Season 11, and Thomas Gibson was dismissed while filming Season 12 Episode 2, Criminal Minds was one of the top shows on CBS.

Now with Criminal Minds ratings down, the writers are pulling out all the stops for Season 13. After putting Matthew Gray Gubler’s character, Spencer Reid, through almost every imaginable trauma last season, it is time to give Matthew Gray Gubler a rest. Still, the writers will try anything to attract a larger audience.

While Criminal Minds unsubs have hacked up women in the past, and there have been some killers on the show who targeted people of both genders, this new unsub will do the unspeakable according to TV Guide.

“The unsub has an extreme way of treating his victims. He tortures them, leaving giant gashes all over their body and then completely castrates them. As in he cuts off everything.”

Criminal Minds will reportedly approach a subject rarely mentioned on television, but not without precedent in the world of serial killers. One generally must read a pretty weighty book to find out such things ever happen. The Shoemaker: The Anatomy of a Psychotic by Flora Rheta Schreiber details such a crime.

A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness portray J.J. and Penelope on Criminal Minds
A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness portray J.J. and Penelope on Criminal Minds image by DFree

While such things do happen, Criminal Minds is addressing a taboo nonetheless, simply because it is almost never talked about or shown on TV. Details like these are often withheld from the news reports. Sexual crimes against women are frequently subject matter for TV, but graphic descriptions like this are rare on prime time television.

TV has rarely featured sexual crimes against men, much less stated such an extreme crime so bluntly as Penelope Garcia, portrayed by Kirsten Vangsness, explains it in this week’s Criminal Minds. Penelope says “the whole package.” It is rare for Criminal Minds to state these kinds of details about attacks on females either. A little is usually left to the imagination.

While Criminal Minds was shocking to many people, including Mandy Patinkin, when it first aired in 2005, nowadays, it’s not considered extreme at all. Is Criminal Minds going for renewed shock value in 2017? How far will this go visually speaking? How graphic would it have to be to make Criminal Minds fans lose their dinner?

Criminal Minds was once a show with enough loyal fans to keep it on top for 11 seasons, mostly because of the beloved cast. Now, with Shemar Moore, Thomas Gibson and about one-fifth of their fan base no longer around, is shock value all Criminal Minds has left?

Is this a topic that Criminal Minds writers honestly feel should be explored? It is true that this happens and it is a far lesser known and less common crime than the Boston Strangler and Jack the Ripper style crimes against women. Perhaps it is something viewers need to be aware of, for whatever reason, but TV Guide thinks watching this episode could be hard on the digestion.

Criminal Minds fans and former fans must choose according to TV Guide. Viewers can watch Criminal Minds and skip dinner tonight, watch something else, or go ahead and eat that spaghetti and join the #NoHotchNoWatch twitter fest.

Spaghetti and Meatballs or Criminal Minds
Spaghetti and Meatballs or Criminal Minds by Gustavomellossa Shutterstock

#NoHotchNoWatch meets on Twitter every Wednesday night during the Criminal Minds time slot to protest the firing of Thomas Gibson. They share photos of Thomas Gibson, tweet a lot and try to trend on Twitter.

If the topic of tonight’s episode has fans ready to hurl, they can just eat their dinner and visit #NoHotchNoWatch on Twitter instead. Let your stomach be your guide.


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Criminal Minds has offered fair warning through TV Guide, saying don’t eat and watch.

[Featured Image by Kathy Hutchins and CKP1001/Shutterstock]