The original Law & Order billed itself as being “ripped from the headlines.” Blue Bloods generally takes a different approach to how it examines police work. But occasionally, the show will veer into the lane of non-fiction, and that’s something Donnie Wahlberg loves about the show.
He told CBS This Morning in 2016 that the season 6 finale deals with a hot-button topic but “explores it from all sides.” In the episode titled “Blowback,” an NYPD officer shoots a teenager during a chase. The teen had a knife, and eye-witness testimony backs up the officer’s recollection of events. However, that doesn’t calm public anger.
“What’s great about our show is that we get to explore these issues from all sides,” since the Reagan family is made up of such different types of people, he tells the hosts. “Ironically, there’s a retaliatory shooting in the episode where someone shoots a cop for payback. Which is something we had to deal with (as actors) on Blue Bloods.”
Wahlberg said producers and network executives told the cast to be aware of their surroundings and be mindful whenever wearing the NYPD uniform in public while filming.
“There was a lot of anger and resentment,” he said.
That resentment was built up from years of mistrust of police and public police killings such as the choke-hold death of Eric Garner in 2014. In 2015, the NYPD shot and killed nearly 1,000 people, the Washington Post reported, the year before this episode aired.
Wahlberg, however, said he never worries when he’s on the street wearing the badge.
“The more people that gather, the more fun I have,” he joked. “Whatever neighborhood we’re in, where ever we are in New York, they’re very supportive of us.”
Wahlberg: Does ‘Blue Bloods’ Paint Too ‘Rosy’ Picture of Law Enforcement?
In a previous interview, Donnie Wahlberg bristled at the idea that Blue Bloods paints police with too “rosy” a brush. He said the show is part of a larger conversation, and he wants to be a part of that discussion.
“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.
For instance, Wahlberg explained that the show approaches police work much differently than other procedural dramas. Blue Bloods is a multi-generational family of police and prosecutor, who each have their own ideas and feelings about policing. He said he hopes the show provides a larger, more contextual view of law enforcement rather than solely a glorified depiction of police work.
“We’ve always tried to engage in tough conversations with multiple opinions,” he said. “Other actors who have been part of the show have also engaged in these conversations. Whoopi Goldberg (who has played an outspoken City Council Speaker) has done some amazing episodes where her character is fighting for social justice and it creates great opportunities for us to engage in these topics.”