Introduction. With producing reality shows comes inaccuracies in portrayals in order to reach as many viewers and gain as high ratings as possible. Every day life is boring, yet people tend to be attracted to the relatable shows that portray real life in exciting ways. In many cases, these shows could remain harmless, as it's entertainment. No matter how crude or erroneous, it's just TV. However, what happens when these sources of entertainment actually start being damaging? Crime shows like the ever popular CSI have started becoming detrimental to criminal cases, influencing their perceptions of what should be going on. This includes mostly jurors, but researchers have also started to find fault in the prosecution when it comes to wrongful convictions.
Forensics in Pop Culture. What exactly are these show that are causing so much controversy in the criminal justice field? The more well known CSI, coming in with almost 60 millions views a week (Cole & Dioso-Villa 1), and all of it's spin offs including CSI: Miami and CSI:NY, but also rising in the ranks include Bones, Castle, Criminal Minds, The First 48, Forensic Files, Law and Order, and many more. You search through your TV guide and you'll see at least three of these shows on at the same time at different channels, many even having all-day marathons. Simon Cole and Rachel Dioso-Villa have analyzed that many of these programs attempt to make science “sexy,” which may be a reason why we're so attracted to them. The scientists look luxurious all the time; wearing nice suits or dresses, having normal work days, finding everything they need in style, having all of the state-of-the-art equipment and staff they need.
CSI: Reality. Not all primetime crime shows are created equal; some bend forensic realities at different degrees than others. According to Hon Shelton, of the Vanderbilt Journal there are different levels of what he calls “reality distortion” based on the sub-genre of these crime shows.
In the first level are the documentary-styled shows, such as Forensic Files, American Justice, and The First 48. These shows are the least harmful, as they use real life cases, but are so heavily edited and narrated, that the focus shifts from the case, to trying to provide a dramatic effect for people to enjoy.
Next is the crime fiction programs, which encompasses all of the popular CSI shows, Bones, Castle, etc. The focus of this show has shifted to take almost a 180, where the attention falls on the drama of the characters. What does the love life of the firearm specialist and the homicide detective have to do with the murder of a teenager near the lake?
Juror Expectations in the Courtroom. Jurors schooled on primetime crime drama television shows tend to have unrealistically high expectations in the courtroom during criminal cases. They believe that forensic labs are “fully staffed with highly trained personnel, stocked with a full complement of state-of-the-art instrumentation and rolling...