Network television show writers are nothing if not predictable. It seems it is impossible to write an episode of primetime programming without reverting to far right stereotypes in order to portray white men as violent, hateful bigots. On Wednesday night on NBC's Chicago Med, we saw a white supremacist target a vehicular attack on a street festival in an African American neighborhood, then Thursday night brought a vehicular attack on a gay pride festival on CBS’s S.W.A.T.
In the February 21 S.W.A.T. episode titled “Pride,” a conservative podcaster, who actually sounds like a bigot, is live streaming in Los Angeles as local LGBTQ organizers are preparing for the Love All Festival the next day. His name is Mark Storm and his loyal listeners are called Storm Chasers. Storm rants about the LGBTQ community taking over West Hollywood and claims that now they want to take over all of Los Angeles. The cost to taxpayers for the festival, he says, is $1.1 million. He tells his listeners that “someone has to stop this sickness before it spreads” and encourages them to come to L.A. to do so. What could possibly go wrong, right?
A Storm Chaser – a white man, obviously – is listening to the broadcast as he comes upon a couple of gay men crossing the street in front of his car. He stops the car and then floors it so that he runs them over. This man turns out to be a regular listener and caller into the show named Dennis (Dedan Donovan).
Soon, a gay 29-year-old financial adviser with no previous record of violence named Micah Sherlock busts into the Storm studio and takes 5 people hostage at gunpoint while commandeering the broadcast from Storm. He encourages festival-goers to call in and tell him of any violence brought about by intolerant straight people, then threatens to begin killing the hostages if reports come in. “We are done being bullied and pushed around,” he tells the listeners.
As protesters circle the broadcast studio, Storm says they are “loyal patriots waging war to reclaim their country.”
In a twist, an LGBTQ gun rights group in West Hollywood, the Straight Shooters have come to protect the festival-goers, though a strong police presence is there. They don’t trust the police to protect them.
S.W.A.T. is called to handle the hostage situation and the team notes the security and safety features at the studio. Storm is described as “one paranoid piece of work” by S.W.A.T. and Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) says, “It doesn’t surprise me a guy who wants to put a target on half the country is afraid to have one put on him.” What? Is he referring to half the country as leading an LGBTQ lifestyle? This was an odd random remark.
Chris Alonso (Lina Esco), a lesbian member of S.W.A.T. volunteers to talk to Micah. As she is speaking with him, the S.W.A.T. team is able to raid the studio and take him into custody. Then, after Micah is put into a police car, a sniper shoots and kills him. Now a sniper is on the loose.
Chris is angry and talks to Sergeant Deacon Kay (Jay Harrington), a devout Catholic, about it. She wants to go to the festival and help out but Deacon tells her that it is not the time to bring politics into the situation and tells her to stand down. She asks, “What if some nutjob tried to blow up your church?” She apparently doesn’t trust the L.A.P.D. to protect the festival-goers, either, while simultaneously comparing LGBTQ identity to Christianity. Deacon says, “My faith teaches that we all deserve love. Storm will face a reckoning for his hate.”
Eventually, the sniper is identified as loyal listener Dennis. He threatens to kill more, with the help of his fellow Storm Chasers. Dennis and his pals steal heavy trucks to plow into the festival crowd. Have no fear, though, S.W.A.T. prevents their plan from succeeding.
A sub-plot is that Commander Hicks (Patrick St. Esprit) reunites with his gay son. The two have been estranged since the death of Hicks’ wife. The son spiraled out of control in his grief and became addicted to drugs. Now clean, he is an organizer for the festival. Thus, he comes together with his father and they pick up their relationship. Just like on Chicago Med the night before, the main plot involving hate crimes is used bring estranged family members together.
Painting people as extremists because of a preference of traditional lifestyles is tiresome. Most people who don’t agree with LGBTQ lifestyles are able to go about their lives without any incidents and certainly don’t encourage violence or launch terror attacks along the way. A little more effort into creativity would be nice with this show. Blaming hateful, violent white males has become cliche at this point.