Goodbye and Good Riddance to “Person of Interest”

CBS finally did it; they finally put Person of Interest out of our misery. Season 5 for this formerly great show will limp onto the schedule May 3rd at 10pm, retaking it’s time slot from Limitless. They will then show 2 episodes a week on Monday at 10 and again on Tuesday at 10. Only 13 episodes were ordered for the final season of this clunker.

I should be sad about this since I was so into this fandom in seasons 1-3, but I’m not.  In a perverse kind of way, POI deserves some credit for this site. fangirlu was so pissed off by the racism experienced by POC fans in this fandom she decided to create this safe space for fans of WOC.

No one who cares about the representation of POC should be unhappy over the end of this show.  It started out very promising by giving us one of the best WOC characters to ever grace the TV screen In Detective Joss Carter, played by Taraji P Henson, but then they killed her. Her death was an example of some of the most over-used tropes in TV Land:

  • Male Lead confesses his feeling for woman, kisses her, then she dies in his arms
  • WOC dies protecting the male lead as she takes a bullet meant for him
  • She was the only POC series regular character and of course the Black woman was killed first
  • Her death was completely meaningless in the arc of the show. It did not further the plot in any way, it was done for shock value and to give the male lead his Man!Pain

To add insult to injury as of this writing the black woman remains the only series regular character to die. I know from behind the scenes photos that all the other (white) characters make it to the series finale. Despite the fact that producers insisted that they were going to “kill them all eventually” they didn’t. The producers are hinting that the series finale was going to be a blood bath, but you don’t get points for killing people the freaking series finale. That’s not hip and edgy, that’s cowardice. The only series regular to die before the last episode will be the black woman.

Then there is the fact that despite the sizzling hot chemistry between Taraji and the (white) male lead, Jim Caviezel, there was no romance. This, despite the fact that Caviezel himself is on record as saying that his character, John Reese was in love with Carter. When several people on Twitter engaged with Chris Fischer, one of the director/producers of the show, as to why no romance ever developed, they got this very telling response:

CFTweet

Especially not Carter and Reese? This is a show that is heavily promoting their white lesbian hookup, and has matched Reese with two different white women. Basically this was a case of Anyone but the Black Woman. But hey, he’s not racist.

But POI’s sins are not limited to gross mismanagement of the character of Joss Carter.  All of sudden, Samantha Shaw became Sameen Shaw to empathize the actress’s half Persian back ground, because one WOC could replace another and make it OK to kill off the original WOC, right?  (I have some issues with pushing white-passing Sarah Shahi as a WOC to begin with, see my rant about casting her in Drew.)

POI also fell into the trap of casting POC as crooks and terrorists. Most of season 3 was taken up by the battle against shadowy terrorist organization Vigilance, dedicated to bringing down the “surveillance state.” The head of the organization was a black man, Peter Collier, was played by Hamilton’s multi-talented Leslie Odom Jr. Unfortunately, what should have been a thoughtful examination of the pros and cons of society under constant surveillance was reduced to a series of vicious terrorist tropes.  There was no explanation as to Collier’s motivations until the season finale, right before he was killed off. Turns out he was manipulated and used as a patsy by the evil white guy, played by the producer’s uncle. So not only was he a terrorist, he was a tool for the white guy.

meerkat-bitch-please

Things didn’t get any better in season 4. We were introduced to the Brotherhood, a particularly vicious street gang run by Dominic (black dude of course). Dominic wanted to bring down Mafioso Elias, an urbane, charismatic white man with sophisticated tastes and a strict code of ethics. Elias was fiercely devoted to his friends. Dominic was portrayed a highly intelligent and strategic thinker, but he was also a vicious killer who shot his second in command to prove to us that he wasn’t vulnerable because he didn’t care about anyone. Needless to say the audience was supposed to root for (white) Elias. Dominic also took a bullet and died.

To recap, here’s POI’s scorecard for any POC who are in more than 1 episode:

Carter: Only series regular to die before the finale.

Beecher: Carter’s boyfriend, ordered killed by Quinn, his own godfather, when he got too close the truth.

Quinn: Thug. Head of vicious corrupt cop organization HR, responsible for numerous deaths. Ordered a hit on his godson. He’s alive but in prison

Collier: Terrorist, leader of terrorist origination Vigilance, responsible for numerous deaths. Dead.

Dominic: Thug, leader of street gang The Brotherhood, responsible for numerous deaths. Dead.

Link: Thug, member of Dominic’s gang. Killed by Dominic after Elias tricks him into thinking Link was a mole. Dead.

Floyd: Thug, another member of Dominic’s gang. Fate unknown.

Harper Rose: Crook. Drifter and con artist. Alive.

On POI if you are black you’re either dead or a criminal or more likely, both. But they’re progressive because they feature a lesbian couple.

Nope not going to miss this show one bit.

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