Everybody knows that reality TV can often stray pretty far from actual reality—which is fine when it’s about the Kardashians’ exploits or Real Housewives fighting, but when it means completely ruining people’s lives… what about then?
That’s the damning accusation—among many others—being thrown at A&E hit show, The First 48, and it makes for sobering thought.
The show hinges on the premise that cops are most likely to solve a murder within the first 48 hours of the crime being committed and cameras follow detectives as they work their cases.
Trouble is, as Miami New Times reports, sometimes the facts of the case are “massaged” to make for better reality TV viewing—and that can result in the imprisonment of innocent people.
Equally troubling is the claim that Miami Police would “grossly misrepresent witness statements and tell outright lies” destroying the character of “suspects” who are actually innocent of any crime—and in the process ignoring tracking down the true perpetrator.
Miami New Times details the case of one man in Houston who was wrongly incarcerated for three years after being accused of murder on The First 48 and claim at least fifteen similar cases have occurred in Miami.
However, ruining innocent lives pales to actually ending them—in Detroit, cops shot dead a 7-year-old girl during a bungled attempt to catch a suspect—all caught on camera for The First 48.
Then, there’s the cries of racism.
There's no ignoring that fact that the vast majority of suspects are back. In fact, as the Guardian points out, caucasian suspects are so rarely portrayed that it’s become somewhat of a media joke.
And they note:
This portrayal is not representative of American crime statistics. Although homicide arrests are disproportionately high among African Americans, about the same total number of white people are arrested in homicide cases as black people. The First 48's overemphasis on black crime is symptomatic of a larger disrespect for African American communities, which many Americans deem inherently suspicious.
However, A&E is certainly not listening to any of their critics and neither is the TV viewing American public it would appear. The show, which is now in its 13th season is as popular as ever with millions tuning in to each new episode.