Janeane Garofalo joins “Criminal Minds” spin-off, but feels conflicted about its violence


For a well-known funny lady and frequent liberal firebrand, Janeane Garofalo certainly has been cast against type a lot of late. Last year the actress joined the cast of the anti-terrorist, pro-torture action series 24. Coming up next year, she joins the cast of the new spin-off for the often grisly crime drama Criminal Minds.

Janeane signed on the project after a previous medical series she was attached to fell through. Instead she’ll be tracking terrible crimes and serial killers as part of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Janeane joked with TV Guide about why she was cast for the series:

Women of a certain age who have an ambiguous sexuality tend to play cops, district attorneys, tough-but-fair lawyers. Especially if you have a deep voice and you’re getting old. You just go to the elephant burial ground of crime procedurals. Be that as it may, I’m always grateful for any job. So I’ll do it!

The cast includes Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as the FBI profiling team leader and out lesbian Criminal Minds star

Kirsten Vangsness, who will pull double duty as tech wizard Penelope Garcia on both shows. According to the official CBS show synopsis, Janeane will play “strong-willed and outspoken Beth Griffith, the newest member of the team who joins them from the FBI Threat Assessment Task Force.” Well at least she gets to be strong-willed, though it’d be pretty hard to cast Janeane as a push over.

She has already displayed some of that strong will, talking with TV Guide about her conflicted feelings being on a show that depicts so much violence, particularly toward women.

I don’t believe we need to find these clever ways for somebody to slice somebody up. On network TV too many women are being killed — that’s every show, across the board — and too many women who seem to look great in their underwear. And I don’t like it. Are we really masquerading as a crime show, but really what we’re doing is showing a girl in her underwear? I don’t like that, and if that’s the case, it doesn’t square with my conscience.

Still she said the producers have been very open and have discussed her problems with the show’s violence with her. Janeane also added “I don’t mean to sound like I’m criticizing the show, because I’m thrilled that they want to hire me. I’m still surprised by it.”

As a someone who watches Criminal Minds, I can attest to the fact that the crimes often are often horrific and often are directed at women. Also, it can be really scary. Last season’s finale had me sleeping with the lights on for a bit. But I can also attest to the fact that the crimes and the criminals aren’t glorified, but detested by the show’s FBI profilers. Am I also conflicted that I watch a show that features rapists and serial killers. A little. Do I feel really good when they catch those rapists and serial killers. A lot.

So I’m excited to see what Janeane can bring to the spin-off. I’m looking forward to her voice and decidedly feminist perspective on the show. And I can’t wait for her to catch some bad guys.

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