When “Blue Bloods” debuted on CBS in 2010, it already raised intrigue with its stellar cast, including popular mustachioed actor Tom Selleck. And its premise was almost unheard of, especially within the tried and true world of procedural crime dramas. Sure, the show would involve busting criminals and solving cases. But at its center was a story about a generational family who happened to also work within the New York law system. However, what may have been the most shocking thing about “Blue Bloods” debut, were its creators, Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green.
Before creating scenes of heated debates at those traditional Sunday dinners, Burgess and Green had spent years writing about another family on the other side of the law. The two were both writers for HBO’s “The Sopranos,” penning numerous episodes all the way to the show’s final sixth season. Switching from the mob to the NYPD seems like a strange transition, as the Reagan family is depicted as overall good, compared to the morally questionable Tony Soprano, played by the great James Gandolfini. But according to the duo, after years of portraying the darker characters, they were more than ready to explore heroic ones.
A 2010 Deadline article reported that during a TCA Panel, Green said, “We did the anti-hero for all those years, it was wonderful, it’s an old tradition…but every great character you see on TV right now is dark, they have a problem, we were very interested, as a curative after ‘the Sopranos,’ to find out what a hero is.” Green wasn’t wrong about TV’s then infatuation with charming anti-heroes. During the time of “Blue Bloods” debut, some of the top shows centered on them.
2010 continued the era of top TV anti-heroes
“The Sopranos” is a show that has constantly and rightfully received praise and analysis for its depiction of a leading anti-hero character. Its portrayal of the flawed but complex Tony Soprano arguably set a precedent for similar protagonists to follow. In a world without Tony Soprano, it’s doubtful we would have seen the rise of fantastic characters like Don Draper in “Mad Men” or Walter White in “Breaking Bad.”
By 2010, Don and Walter were still leading the pack of any compelling anti-hero character. They were also continuing to establish their shows as some of the best of the last decade. With all that said, it makes sense why Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green wanted to do something different than the landscape of TV back then. After all, in a way, they helped establish the TV bad boy blueprint with their work on “The Sopranos.”
In the same 2010 Deadline article, Burgess said, “We were very conscious that we wanted to rediscover the hero and write that, we did the other thing, and now we want to do this.” With 13 Seasons of “Blue Bloods” to its credit, it appears that Burgess and Green made the right choice. However, they weren’t able to stick around for long with the show after creating it. The two creators were fired from “Blue Bloods” after only one season. Still, nothing can take away the fact that they’re the reason the show exists.