I have a love-hate relationship with NBC’s #OneChicago universe that goes back all the way to Chicago Fire‘s premiere. Chicago Fire features Jesse Spencer as Lt. Matt Casey (at least through the most recent season which ended with a cliffhanger and Casey the one hanging) and Jesse Spencer previously played Dr. Robert Chase on House MD. Chase was secretly the best character on House because he grows and changes and becomes a more realized person on a series pretty much dedicated to proving that people do not grow or change or improve. I love House and I love Chase and I gave Chicago Fire a try for Jesse.
I later realized Chicago Fire, and all the other Chicago series, were created by Dick Wolf (partnered with Matt Olmstead), of Law & Order franchise fame. I am forever dedicated to the original Law & Order and spin-off SVU and I have become, for better or worse, equally dedicated to the Chicagos.
These series will never win industry awards or media accolades, few to no sites waste time recapping or analyzing them, and they are not “great television” by anyone’s definition, including the showrunners. An episode here or there might reach for greatness but even then it’s not really the point. These series are procedural, plot driven, and full of pretty people in messy relationships. They do have one gimmick: their shared world of fictional Chicago, which crosses over between series regularly, and even crossed with the fictional New York of SVU a couple times. One Chicago + SVU are my current comfort series. They don’t challenge me, they just make me feel.
And that’s where the hate side comes in, because sometimes they make me feel SO ANGRY. See, I started watching Chicago Fire for Jesse Spencer but I stopped watching it for Leslie Shay.
Shay was a paramedic, and a lesbian, the BFF of two separate characters, and — because she was a mess who didn’t know what she wanted or who she was but was determined like no one else to keep trying to be it and achieve it — she was the character I most related to. And, because she was the character I most related to, she was cursed to be destroyed by her canon. I should have expected her death — she was not only one of ‘my’ characters and therefore doomed, she was a lesbian on television and therefore doomed — but I didn’t. It took two years for me to watch the show again.
And now, in what feels like deja vu, my favorite character on Chicago PD, Erin Lindsay, is not returning. Erin did not quite qualify as one of ‘my’ characters in that she was never sidelined and most of the fandom loves her, but looking back, there were some red flags. I didn’t notice the chaos in her continuity because it exists for every single character on every single Chicago series. Chaotic character development is kinda their thing — and tbqh, kinda what I love about it. I love MESSES and I love THE MESS. But now I have to live with a Lindsay-less fictional Chicago and I’m sad and I’m angry and I hate it.
Maybe that’s part of the comfort. A Phoenix needs to burn before it can rise. Maybe the expectation I’ll be burned again is part of the appeal. I don’t know. It’s a love-hate relationship.