Chicago Fire Season 7: Has it jumped the shark?
There are two things about Chicago Fire that made it my kind of show. First, I’m a huge fan of anything that has Dick Wolf’s name is slapped onto it. Secondly, I think firefighters are awesome and their stories should be told. So, when NBC introduced a show produced by Wolf about firefighters… well, they garnered my interest. I was a little late to the bandwagon (as I usually am with most shows) and picked up around season four when things were changing.
Overall, I enjoyed the show’s premise. Above the former mentioned concepts, I’m a big fan of Jesse Spencer (who plays Matt Casey on the show) from his days on FOX’s House. I also quickly enjoyed his chemistry with Squad 3 Lieutenant Kelly Severide, portrayed by Taylor Kinney. Without question, the show has a great ensemble cast in general. Some bigger names like Spencer join newcomers to TV creating a well-blended and diverse atmosphere. There is chemistry between the cast. It shows easily on each episode. I have no complaints about the casting decisions or the quality of acting.
Writing and Storylines
My question lies in the writing and the overall storylines. Somewhere around the start of last season (six), I noticed a trend. One of the most exciting things about this show is the intense action: the rescues and the honesty portrayed by these actors. This is not an easy job. They lose colleagues in horrific ways and must witness the worst days of civilians’ lives. The real-life heroes they represent deserve that on the big screen.
Of course, heroes have personal lives as well. Behind the uniforms and firetrucks are families of all kinds, hobbies and dramas that all Americans face. I would never expect less; there should be some level of character background on a show. You don’t have three dimensional, well-written characters without this. There also must be side stories. Meaning, it can’t always be about the fires and rescues… my question is when does it become the reverse? More and more the storylines seem to focus on soap opera-like drama.
Some characters recycle girlfriends each episode it feels. Someone is always hooking up. Clearly, Chicago Fire is part of a franchise where everyone seems to pair off. Off the top of my head: Matt Casey and Dawson. Severide and Kidd. Brett and Antonio. Mouch and Trudy. The same goes for the other shows (though my bone isn’t currently to pick with them).
Season 7: Spoilers Ahead!
I want to delve a little into this season.
We know Gabby Dawson does not return in season seven. She makes a guest appearance in the first episode but goes to Puerto Rico to help the post-hurricane crisis. I was thrilled to hear this, unlike most Fire fans. One of my biggest issues with the show were Dawson and Casey as a couple. It felt like it was the “Dawsey” show most weeks. Storylines were always central to their lives, this is an ensemble cast!
More and more, Dawson’s character was becoming unhinged as if the writers had no idea what to do with her. She flipped personalities multiple times before her huge decision to leave Matt in the first episode of seven. None of this is like her, but I get at that point they were trying to write her off. So, I had hope for the show with Gabby’s character’s departure.
Severide and Kidd: The New “Dawsey”?
What I didn’t consider was how hard they would push Severide and Kidd. Now, I like them as a couple. They are two of my favorite individual characters and I was thrilled with the character growth they gave Kelly over the last two seasons. I was sure he was finally going to find his happiness and this weird yo-yo his life seemed to have would end. Chicago Fire writers love this.
People can’t be happy for long on Fire. There must be some mega drama, some new (or old) face returning to ruin something for someone. How many times are we introduced to Firefighter A’s old friend from high school who still has feelings for the firefighter currently seeing Firefighter B? Not only is it lazy writing, it doesn’t even last long. These arches last for one or two, maybe three episodes before they’re fizzled and a new one starts. The drama is cheap; it is so stale.
Cheap and Stale
But, back to Severide and Kidd. This seemed fresh. Should I have known better? Oh yeah, at this point totally. But I gave the show another chance, hoping the exit of another cast member would be beneficial for the show as a whole. It started out well. It makes sense. The show seemed to know they were taking a huge hit from the fanbase (because for some weird reason, people loved “Dawsey”—I could dedicate an entire article to my dislike for how they were set up, but this is not the time or place) on losing it. They knew they had to work hard to keep people’s focus.
So, Taylor Kinney (Severide) and Miranda Rae Mayo (Kidd) were to promote the show all through New York. They were the focal point of previews, their happiness boasted! The first few episodes were wonderful. All fairytales. Now, I don’t expect it to stay that way. Life happens. Romance isn’t easy. Relationships take work and both characters have strong personalities. BUT GUESS WHAT? Kidd’s old high school friend is in town and he wants her! He threatens Kelly. Kelly fights back. Suddenly, everything is Kelly’s fault. Kidd stops trusting him out of nowhere, as if he’s ever given her a reason not to. It’s bizarre and fans are not happy.
The backlash is evident on twitter. So why do it? Well, let’s see. Give it three episodes. I’m sure somehow Kidd will realize she’s made a huge mistake and take him back, but first, we must watch Kelly’s character spiral some more because we haven’t watched that for seven seasons in a row thus far. What’s that? STALE BREAD.
Strike One… Two… Three…
The show is a constant romance. Strike one. You can’t keep up with them. Three episodes from now, it’s highly possible that Brett will have moved on from her current beau she’s chasing and will be back on Antonio. Predictable.
Strike two: Where are the calls? Gone are the episodes where the show would have 2-3 calls per show, if not more. There are multiple episodes a season now where the plot is so focused on unrelated nonsense that we don’t even get the same action that we used to. Let’s tie something else in here. Firefighter A is dating new chick. She’s great. Changed his life for the better! He can’t imagine life without her. Awesome, right? Well, now she’s in a terrible accident. Or she’s dead. They like doing that too. Again, am I watching Chicago Fire or Days of our Lives?
Strike Three: the cast changes a lot more than it probably should. They introduce new characters just long enough for you to get attached to them. Think about it. Jimmy (gone). Chili (gone). Candidate Jones (gone). My personal favorite, and also gone: Jeff Clarke. For some reason, there always seems to be a gap on the show, usually replaced for a season or so but then the actor either decides to leave… or what do you know, they die. Don’t get me wrong. This is a profession where people do die. And people change careers… but really? This often?
And there’s a STRIKE FOUR?
Strike four: We have another new paramedic this season, who replaced Dawson. What do you know… she has some insane backstory! They always do. (Seriously, the show’s paramedics are always running from something. I swear.) Will she last more than one season? Wait and see if she’s involved in some sort of fiery crash by the end of the show. Oh, she also may decide to go back to Med school. Maybe she’ll hop shows. Shockingly, there is a worse show in the franchise than Fire… and that would be Med.
I know it seems I am picking on the show a lot. The show does still have great moments. I just wish there would be more creativity put into the overall storyline arc, focus on what the title of the show is (YOU KNOW, FIRE) and less nonsense for the characters. This does pose a question: has the show run its course? Is that why they’re recycling the same storylines again and again?
I want to give the show another chance. I am attached to several of the characters, having watched them from the beginning and I think the actors on the show are fantastic. But if it continues at this rate, I don’t think my heart has it in me to keep up with it anymore. There isn’t anything enjoyable about being frustrated week after a week from a show that used to once bring you joy.
So, has Chicago Fire jumped the shark, or do you think it’s got several more seasons in it?
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