Kirsten Vangsness speaks out about losing JJ and gaining a new show


We love Kirsten Vangsness.

Not only is she openly lesbian, she plays one of the most awesome characters on television: Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds.

At Comic-Con, Vangsness was a popular interview — and not just because of the controversy surrounding the abrupt firing of A.J. Cook (JJ) and the threat of reduced appearances for Paget Brewster (Emily).

Kirsten herself is making news with Penelope’s double duty this year on the original Criminal Minds and the new spin-off, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Vangsness will be a regular on both series.

She was not hesitant to express her disappointment with Cook’s dismissal. She told ScreenRant, “it sucks when they fire your friends. I don’t know who made that decision, but I know that us as a family — the family that [showrunner] Ed Bernero made of us — are crushed and it’s awful.”

When the Criminal Minds family saw that the fans were up in arms to save Cook’s job, they joined the effort.

“What we did was the fans set up a petition and I had Jane Lynch sign that petition, I had Jayne Atkinson [who plays Director Erin Strauss] — Helen Mirren called me and signed that petition. I was calling people up and telling them that ‘this is happening’ and that’s all you can really do. The fans are really the most powerful thing we have and we had 60,000 people sign that petition and it didn’t do anything.

“If someone makes a decision, they make a decision, but to me, it was like, ‘Can you see how many people disagree with you?’ Make that decision, but just know that I disagree with you.”

Since the dismissal, CBS and Cook have agreed that she will return for two episodes to wrap up JJ’s storyline. But Vangsness told EW’s Ausiello that losing such an integral character definitely has affected morale. (Watch the interview here.)

Vangsness was more tight-lipped about what’s in store for Penelope next year. But Suspect Behavior is shaping up to be a strong show, with a cast that includes Janeane Garofalo, Forest Whitaker and former West Wing star Richard Schiff.

She will say how excited she is — here’s a clip from her interview with


When someone is as adorable as Kirsten Vangsness, I can certainly deal with her being on as many shows as possible. We’ll have an interview with her in a few weeks to find out how things are going for a very busy Penelope.

Are you looking forward to seeing more of Kirsten? Is Criminal Minds: Suspect List on your new show schedule?

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