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Why Criminal Minds Is So Hard To Watch According To Some Fans

When it debuted in 2005, "Criminal Minds" seemed to be just another crime procedural in the vein of fellow CBS series "Without a Trace" and "Cold Case." First impressions, however, aren't always immutable. Very quickly, "Criminal Minds" proved it was not going to follow the outline drawn by its predecessors. Instead, it was going to color well outside the lines.

Though cable series like "Game of Thrones" and "The Sopranos" are known for their on-screen violence, series airing on network television must follow far stricter protocols. Over its impressive 15-season run, "Criminal Minds" presented some of the most brutal murders — committed by some of the most deranged killers — ever to appear on network television while still complying with the rules. From a face-stealing serial killer to a maker of human marionettes, the series worked hard to give its audience substantial chills. Ironically, those same boundary-pushing storylines that inspired scores of diehard fans are also why some of those fans struggle to watch the show.

Criminal Minds was more than just frights and violence

To be fair, much of the darkness featured on "Criminal Minds" was balanced by the camaraderie amongst the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the heart of the series. With a comparatively static cast of main characters, the series offered the audience the opportunity to watch the BAU's members grow and mature, explore relationships, begin families, and pursue new opportunities. Despite the bleak and emotionally challenging storylines, love of the series' characters has the powers that be mulling a potential 16th season, years after the show ended.

Also, the violence and darkness the writers chose to present on "Criminal Minds" didn't serve solely to shock viewers. The series highlighted important social topics — such as racism, sexism, and drug addiction — typically through an unsub's victims and occasionally through a member of the BAU itself. "Criminal Minds" also addressed sexual abuse and mental health, offering information and resources the audience may not have previously had access to.

Fans love the show, but can't watch in the dark

Interestingly, some of the fans that made "Criminal Minds" the massive success it became, and who continue to binge-watch the show on streaming services, have expressed some difficulty in watching the show. In December 2020, Redditor u/talooshh created a thread in which they declared their love of the show, but also shared that they can't watch too many episodes in a row... and certainly not before bed. The poster admitted that after watching a few episodes, they have to turn to something funny to clear their mind. Not surprisingly, u/talooshh isn't alone.

The original post received dozens of responses from fans who battle between their love of the show and the depressed mood they're left in after an episode ends. u/Jnad1 replied, saying they don't watch the show after 10 p.m. for fear of nightmares. A couple of users admitted to taking long breaks from the show because they were getting too paranoid, while several users said they don't watch it after dark. One of the more humorous replies came from u/dubscurry30, who realized that they'd perhaps watched too much "Criminal Minds" because they weren't scared while watching an episode alone at 2 a.m., which, as they said, is "probly [sic] not normal."

Normal or not, it's likely these diehard watchers will eagerly devour a 16th season... they'll just be watching during the day in a well-lit room.