‘Blue Bloods’: How Donnie Wahlberg Responded to Criticism That Police Shows Paint ‘Too Rosy’ Picture of Law Enforcement

by John Jamison

Since 2010, “Blue Bloods” has been depicting a New York City police family. The show follows the Reagans as they navigate both their own relationships and the dangers of law enforcement in a bustling city.

Like many police-centric crime dramas, the show is highly entertaining. That has led some to criticize its portrayal of police work as unrealistic and, in some cases, idealistic. No one is claiming that “Blue Bloods,” or any fictionalized drama on television for that matter, is painting a completely accurate picture of what happens in reality.

Sure, one trusts that these shows, especially the police dramas, get the procedures right. But it is entertainment, after all. So naturally, shows like “Blue Bloods” take some creative liberties to that end.

But in recent years, these shows have needed to address, or at least reflect, the current policing climate in America. Some feel that the TV shows make law enforcement out to be a little holier than thou at times.

Donnie Wahlberg, who has portrayed Detective Danny Reagan on the show since the beginning, spoke on those feelings.

“I’m not sure how rosy it is. I think ‘Blue Bloods’ has very realistic conversations, and we’re going to have more. I look forward to being part of the change and being part of these conversations,” Wahlberg told TV Insider.

Where “Blue Bloods” contrasts with many other police dramas out there is its focus on character. It isn’t purely a procedural that solely revolves around an investigation, an arrest, and a trial. Instead, it tries to look at law enforcement through the multigenerational lens of one family. The Reagans represent everything from the Police Commissioner himself to the Assistant District Attorney.

The Character-Driven Aspect of ‘Blue Bloods’ is What Attracted Tom Selleck in the First Place

“Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck has been playing NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan since the beginning of “Blue Bloods.” The iconic actor has been around the block throughout his career, and he knew that he didn’t want to take a role on a purely procedural show.

So when he read the script for “Blue Bloods” and came across a 10-minute dinner scene that saw the Reagan family talking about their lives, he was hooked. And after late producer Leonard Goldberg assured him that this family aspect was central to the show, Selleck signed on.

In an interview with Taylor Magazine in 2017, Selleck’s co-star and on-screen son, Will Estes, talked about how the show took shape.

“There was an effort to make the show more procedural like ‘Law and Order’, and there’s a lot of creative forces on the show,” Estes said. “I know that Tom Selleck for one really wanted to do a character-driven drama. As an actor that’s much more fun to play. So, the show stayed more of a character-driven drama where it’s about how people’s lives affect their work and how their work affects their lives.”