Back in September 2014, when the 10th season of hit CBS crime drama Criminal Minds first aired, the hate towards new cast member Jennifer Love Hewitt was strong. In fact, it was probably one of the biggest casting disputes with fans since the show first aired in 2005. Now that the current season has come to an end tonight, May 6, it is clear when looking back throughout the episodes that although the viewers were extremely reluctant to welcome the actress at first, they began to accept her throughout this past installment and some even became fans.
The bitterness towards the former Ghost Whisperer star’s entrance into the beloved series was, at times, nothing short of brutal. The protests towards producers allowing Hewitt to be in the show was broadcast throughout an extremely creative range of outcries, ranging from emails and letters to CBS honchos to extremely outspoken commentary on the internet, both on the Criminal Minds official Facebook page and various message boards, as well as significantly on Twitter. There was also, as ridiculous and as hard to believe as it seems, an actual petition to remove her from the set.
The comments regarding what people did not like about Hewitt in general ranged from legitimate concern regarding how well she would fit in with the show’s theme and the rest of the cast members, to flat-out verbal abuse regarding her appearance and why she was “really” on the show. Disgruntled viewers were quick to allege that Criminal Minds producers only hired her because of her physical appearance, taking shot after shot at her work in Ghost Whisperer and other works, and accusing CBS of employing a no-talent actress with a large chest in order to boost their declining ratings.
In terms of why individuals were so excessively hateful towards the 36-year-old, the main reason centered around still desperately missing former Criminal Minds star Paget Brewster, an overwhelming fan favorite for the linguistics role in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis United (BAU). Brewster’s character exited the series at the end of the seventh season, and the dismay experienced by fans was quite significant. Indeed, the aforementioned online petition to eliminate Hewitt from the Criminal Minds cast was headlined by the request to bring back the character of Emily Prentiss once more as her replacement, as fans were adamant she was a much better choice and nothing would ever be the same again without her.
As for the reason viewers started to become more accepting of Hewitt’s character of Kate Callahan throughout season 10 of Criminal Minds, there are two main reasons. One of them is in regards to the efforts made by one Joe Mantegna, who stars as one of the male leads in the show, SSA David Rossi. Fed up with the constant attacks on his co-star by upset fans who were desperate for a cast member back that had voluntarily resigned two whole seasons before the 10th even began, the 67-year-old took to his official Facebook page to share an update detailing his feelings on the matter. He was extremely firm in his advise to viewers to stop referring to Hewitt as Brewster’s “replacement” on the show, and made a point to reference the fact that it was Basic Instinct actress Jeanne Tripplehorn who was hired to fill her role on Criminal Minds following her departure. Mantegna expressed his great liking for his new co-worker, and blatantly asked individuals to either let it go or move on to a different series, if this was how they were going to behave.
Another reason was the great dedication producer’s put in to working in Hewitt’s character to the storyline gradually, rather than throwing her into the mix headfirst with full script and backstory. This is what was done with Tripplehorn during her premiere entrance to the show at the beginning of season eight, and fans most definitely voiced their opinion that her character was somewhat shoved down their throats in a desperate attempt to make it seem like she belonged there. While viewers at first criticized the lack of involvement Callahan had with the rest of the team in terms of social interactions and going all-out during crime solving missions, it soon became apparent that it was better this way as it made things more sensitive and allowed them to adapt in their own time.
Indeed, Hewitt’s main breakthrough in terms of finding her place on the show occurred in the episode A Thousand Suns, the series’ third episode. From then on, fans started to become enticed by the friendly but not overly pushy relationship she formed with the rest of the BAU crew. With Rossi, it was almost as though the two were father and daughter; with fellow fan favorite Dr. Spencer Reid, the two sometimes rivaled each other with their oddly random but still interesting knowledge of little known facts and figures surrounding pretty much everything in the world. Throughout the Criminal Mind‘s 23 episode season, Hewitt’s character simply began to fit in with the show as a whole, almost like a puzzle of which one of the pieces did not at first seem to fit but eventually found its way into the rest.
For the most part, Criminal Minds fans who once despised Jennifer Love Hewitt and her newfound involvement in the decade-long CBS series grew to accept her and her character throughout the show’s 10th season. Those who are still fighting the matter tooth and nail either simply do not like her acting and never will, or continue to pine for an actress has been very outspoken about the zero percent likelihood of her character ever returning to the show. News just broke, however, detailing the fact that the actress will NOT be returning for the Criminal Mind‘s next season.
By Rebecca Grace
Photo by zuko1312 – Creativecommons Flickr License