Unreal comparisons: CSI Miami sets us up for failure

May 17, 2009

We often “compare our insides to other people’s outsides”.  And in doing so, beat ourselves up for not being as talented, attractive, successful, happy or likeable as them.

By this I simply mean that we often compare the little we know of others by observing their limited external appearances to our comprehensive internal knowledge of ourselves including our secrets, hurts, and shortcomings.

My blog friend, Lores ( www.maladjusted.wordpress.com) recently posted about how some people appear successful on the exterior while we appear to ourselves as unsuccessful.

This is somewhat ironic because my wife and I recently gave up watching CSI Miami.  From time to time, we sit together after our long work days and unwind with an episode.  More recently, we began laughing at the overwheming and continuous BS portrayals of life. 

According to the show, the vast majority of people in Miami are rich, young, and attractive.  Oh ya, and all the women somehow are able to show cleavage and none has yet to be groped by a perpetrator or colleague.

emily procter CSI calleighLets start with the most conspicuous character…. the lovely Miss Calleigh Duquesne. 

She has the amazing ability to strut onto a crime scene in heels and flowing, dangling hair that never goes out of place.  And of course, cleavage to spare. 

A particularly unique talent she often displays is her ability to walk on a sandy beach with said heels.

I know some female cops.  Not one of them shows up to work dressed like this.  Unless they are undercover doing entrapment.

I wonder how many women working careers compare themselves, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to an unrealistic portrayal like Calleigh?


CSI: MIAMIWe also have Dr. Alexx Woods. 

Now come on…. would the Miami Dade County really allow their coroner to let her hair dangle into the blood pool of a crime-scene corpse? 

I am sure most of us didn’t even notice there was a corpse in the picture did we?… cause I eye got drawn to those ever-visible…. tits!

But she did put gloves on…. Thank God!  We wouldn’t want to taint evidence or be unsanitary!

Ok, so help me out…. she took time to choose her ensemble, wrestle her boobs into an over-worked push-up bra, apply makeup (presumably in the hummer on the way to the crime scene), put on latex gloves, but didn’t tie her hair back? 


 jonathan togo csi miami ryan wolfe 

It is not just the female characters that set the unrealistic expectations.

Jonathan Togo’s character, Ryan Wolfe, continually shows up in the trendiest ensembles, complete with neck tie?  Since when?

Check out this little Gucci number Wolfe is sporting. 

Who pays the dry cleaning bill when the arterial spray lands on his lapel?


Television and entertainment has been painting these unrealistic perspectives for as long as they have existed.  We all know their portrayals are unrealistic, yet I still wonder to what degree repeated viewing continual bombards the subconscious and leaves us feeling like crap? 

Is it any wonder depression, anxiety, suicide and body image/eating disorders are rampant when we continually feed our minds with these impossible standards?

megalyn echikunwoke dr tara price csi miamiI will say that I was encouraged when the Wolfe character came out with his gambling addiction, and more recently, the new coroner Dr. Tara Price had her prescription drug problem revealed.

Yet all woven through the greater un-realities of shows like this.

(Note the dangling hair, hoop ear rings, perfect makeup, fashionable clothing, but just to keep it official, latex gloves.)

I am all for striving for the best.  My wife and I work hard in our careers, We keep fit, we work on our marriage and parenting, and we are grateful to enjoy many positive results.

Rarely are the realities of these real results meaningfully portrayed on shows like CSI Miami.  So rather than scoff at the un-realities and misrepresentations of life, we’re tuning out and focusing on real life and real success.

This gives us real growth and real happiness.





  1. Oh my God, Chaz. This is priceless! Especially so, since I’m a semi-regular watcher of CSI Miami. I’d love to see a good arterial spray soak Wolfe’s lapel.

    If I may be so bold, your post describes me to a tee. Given my profession, thousands of people in my local area see me as a trusted news source who’s “got it going on.” If they only knew the truth about me, the choices I’ve made, and how those choices have impacted my life. I am the walking wounded and my viewership doesn’t know it.

    • Well Teev…. “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”…no?

      I can only imagine the expecations that would be projected onto you as someone in the public eye. And few would know of your plights.

      People tend to look at others and see what they want to see. We project imaginations onto other people, then compare ourselves to those imaginations.

      Bizarre eh?



  2. Hi Chaz,

    This post reminds me of why I stopped watching a lot of tv, specifically tv news, years ago. Unlike the perfect “fashion” shows you describe are the news shows that always talk about the latest destruction and tragedy in the world and how it is coming to a home near you. (As one commedian said, “Pants! If you are wearing them you could be in danger! Tune in at 11:00 to find out why…”) Pessimism, disaster, trouble, fires, floods, killer bees… no wonder we are full of fears, and why some of us tried to booze them away.

    I work very hard to keep expecations real – not low, just reasonable. It is an even greater uphill battle for those who are too regularly exposed to the perfect people you describe.

    Anyhow, thanks again for the post. Happy 24 hours.

    Man Alive

  3. Man Alive….

    A quote from a couple thousand years ago… “As a man thinks, so is he”.

    Or more recently… “You aren’t what you think you are. But what you think, you are”.

    I agree that filling our minds with… um… well…. shit, we think and thereby feel unmeaningfully to how life really works.

    Good on you for withdrawing from shows that pollute your thinking.

    I avoid morning radio dumb-ass shows with idiotic surveys about bullshit for that very reason. And I do an hour commute every morning.

    Thanks for reply.



  4. haha…good stuff. I have never watched CSI Miami, and now I never intend to!

    The UK tends to produce TV programmes that are based more on ‘real life’…we don’t like to see glamourous people having a good time as a general rule…although ‘real life’ is usually the most depressing exaggeration of the bad times in life.

    Take for example Eastenders – a soap opera about London life, full of misfits, people will addictions, unwanted children, cheaters, ugly people and general tragedy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/

    I’m not sure what type of show is more depressing…
    This is why I avoid TV!

  5. My friends and I call Horatio “The Shades of Justice”. I love to YouTube clips of David Caruso delivering his pithy line right before the theme starts. HILARIOUS! It’s a great show for all the wrong reasons.

    Anyway, I could not agree MORE with this entire post. My new rule is that I try not to watch a TV show unless it contains at least 2 women who talk TO EACH OTHER about something other than a man. Sad to say … not many shows make the cut. I make an exception if there’s a black person that’s not a sassy girlfriend, thug, sage advice-giver, or doorman and the role isn’t predicated on race. Mostly b/c it allowed me to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles if you counted James Ellison.

    My mom always thought Roseanne was crass, but when I see reruns now I love that all their problems weren’t solved in half an hour, and they all didn’t have perfect bodies and perfect clothes.

  6. so a good push-up bra, good hair, and some cool sunglasses aren’t the key to happiness?

    i can’t watch a lot of tv anymore… mostly it’s just crap like this or the other end of the spectrum — reality shows where they push the people to be their worst on tv. i can’t stand it.

    whatever happened to the storylines and the character development? i swear there used to be some on tv, but i have a hard time finding it anymore. i guess the term “idiot box” is becoming more relevant.

  7. Lores…. hmmm…. a sad soap opera about some deparate circumstances. I bet it is popular. And for reasons unrelated to why CSI Miami is.

    I think we often look for things we relate to. This is why we AA people find comfort in getting together for meetings and support one another.

    If it is for a practical reason, I am all for it. If it is just to commiserate, I would find that dangerous.

    My wife and I watched, “Pursuit of Happiness” last night with Will Smith and his son. What an amazing movie! So much jumped out at me about moving through adversity and never quitting. It is very much what I needed this week.

    I am extremely cautious what I fill my mind with. Which is why I have anti-selected CSI Miami.



  8. Delph….

    Ya… I had never been a Rosanne viewer. Yet I recognized that her character portrayed a profile not often portrayed and I certainly have met a number of her type. Brassy, sarcastic, and not a ramp model.

    And the Horatio thing with the shades. I have definitely had enough. My wife can’t figure out what it is about him that has made him a leading man on a show full of tall, fit people. Frankly, he would be more suited to Rosanne show.

    Or maybe there is a hidden message in that a scrawny, bad-postured, flaming-red haired middle-aged guy can be part of the crowd with tall, svelt people like Eric, Ryan, Caleigh…. oh ya, and his ex-wife played by Elizabeth Berkley who is about a foot taller than him.

    Maybe this role exists to provide hope that there can be a place for his type amongst the projectedly “perfect”.



  9. Blu…

    Sorry to shatter any illusions… no, sunglasses and pushup bras are not the keys…. but I never discourage my wife from wearing either…. hey, I am still a guy.

    Ya, and “reality” shows…. nice idea but to me, from the little I have seen, they appear to be largely re-packaged bullshit.

    To me they appear to be a way for some to believe they are a part of someone else’s life for those not satisfied with theirs.

    My life has enough drama and needs enough attention without me pouring my time and energy into observing someone else’s.

    Hey… funny thing came to mind… one of the last CSI episodes I watched was about a “reality” show about a guy who a bunch of hot chicks were hoping to be chosen as his wife. Presumably a knock off of “The Batchelor” which I have never seen but certainly heard about.

    The CSI plot line included the fact that it was all staged incluidng the cat-fights between prospective candidates.

    So what is the message? If this is meaningful to the way reality shows are produced, are we not being served up yet more “bait-and-switch” entertainment?

    Correct me if I am wrong…. isn’t the theme some for CSI Miami “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”, by the who?

    Ironies at every turn.

    (BTW… Good to hear from you Blu… hope you are doing well).



  10. My favorite part is when characters on TV don’t look a day over 22, but they all mysteriously have advanced degrees. So they’re gorgeous and they can also get through grad school/law school/med school in six months??


  11. Yup….

    Part of the youth-worship bs culture that our “entertainment” industry feeds us so hopefully we feel like crap about ourselves and then need them to provide entertainment for us as an escape.

    My conspiracy theory anyway.



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