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Why Rewatching Bones Shows That Booth Hasn't Aged Well

Over 12 seasons of Bones, viewers saw FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth grow and change dramatically as a character. He went from being a coulrophobic, single dad who never questioned authority to a married father of three who was willing to go against his orders if it meant protecting his family. But Booth, played by David Boreanaz, did many things that might raise an eyebrow or two; he shot an ice cream truck and arrested his future father-in-law, to name a couple. Still, Bones fans on Reddit are divided as to whether Booth's characteristics holds up in today's more enlightened political climate. User angel-icbaby laments Booth's "whole 'the government and the police and [sic] america can do no wrong' thing." But user mntucker10 thinks that Booth's "macho and old school" behavior is just one layer of a well-developed character. Booth did grow a lot as a character over more than a decade of Bones being on the air.

Booth embodies aspects of toxic masculinity

Booth is the kind of guy who wears a "Cocky" belt buckle to prove he's not like other FBI agents; he's a cool FBI agent. The character was often contrasted with Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel. Where she rationalized her way out of feeling anything, Booth would feel things and just not talk about them. This tendency came to a head in "The Girl in the Gator," when Booth shoots the clown mascot on an ice cream truck. He is taken out of the field and forced to see a psychiatrist, Gordon Wyatt (Stephen Fry). Wyatt forces Booth to talk through his feelings for the first time. Booth realizes that he acted out because he worried that he wasn't fit for duty. Earlier that season, he had let a serial killer fall to his death, and he felt ambivalence about that act. Was he sorry that he'd let a man die, even if it was an accident? Even if the guy was evil? Booth had given himself no time or space to process the event.

Beyond not talking about his feelings, Booth embodies other aspects of toxic masculinity. He can be very rigid about gender norms and sexual mores, especially compared to Bones. In the season 3 episode "Death in the Saddle," Booth expresses a lot of anxiety and disgust around the pony play fetishists he encounters. He also expresses discomfort about the trans victim in "The He in the She," though he does eventually come around.

Booth has a violent streak

One thing that hasn't aged well in Bones is how often Booth brandishes or fires his weapon. In addition to the clown truck incident, he also threatened to shoot a heckler at when he tried stand-up comedy. That went over really well with the audience, for some reason. They also loved his shooting unarmed suspects material, which probably wouldn't go over so well in today's social climate. Booth also reenacted the JFK assassination in "The Proof in the Pudding." Given the way conspiracy theories run rampant on social media today, that whole episode could feel a little off to a contemporary audience.

Additionally, Booth is the enforcer on his amateur hockey team, which means he beats the living daylights out of people. But it's fine, because it's hockey, right? One could argue that amateur hockey leagues don't need to be as violent as the pros, and that any hockey fighting is a bad idea with what we know about repetitive head injuries.

Booth is too close to his coworkers

Redditors zeroed in on Booth's romantic relationships at work. In the real world, relationships in the workplace happen. However, they are big headaches for the human resources department. And when you're a FBI Special Agent who has to decide who lives and dies on a regular basis, sleeping with coworkers is probably not the best idea. Booth had intimate relationships with both Camille Saroyan and Temperance Brennan while they worked together. But he's hardly alone in that: Angela Montenegro and Jack Hodgins slept with each other while coworkers — while at work. They even had a secret love nest inside the Jeffersonian Institute's archives.

One redditor cringed watching Booth's relationship with Bones, not because they worked together but because he was so bossy about her pregnancy. "I had to fast forward. Telling her what to eat, being overly aggressive with allowing her to SQUAT instead of stand, and trying to force her to sit," wrote user StrongLastRunFast. "Truly out of the 1950s type of behavior."

Cringe is in the eye of the beholder

For everything Seeley Booth does on Bones that makes you hate him, there's something else he does that's endearing. Booth was always striving to be a good person on Bones. He said that he wanted to "be someone who's given more than they've taken." Further complicating the character is the fact that he is a survivor of abuse. As redditor mntucker10 pointed out, Booth was always growing on the show: "his aunt was gay, he comes around to the medical marijuana, he opens up to Sweets eventually. Today I think they would have made him progress further though, which would have been ideal."

Cultural norms are constantly changing, and no show will age perfectly. Even the Muppets are getting flagged for depicting negative stereotypes about cultures on Disney+. How you feel about Seeley Booth depends on how much you believe someone is capable of changing. If you think people stay basically the same, Booth may always be that "Cocky" guy who shot a clown. But if you believe in humanity's capacity for change, then some of Booth's flaws make for interesting character development.