E. and I have been watching a terrific television series, The Shield, on Netflix. The gritty, violent drama, which originally aired on FX Network, features a fabulous cast, great writing, and compelling story lines. It ran for seven seasons, from 2002 through 2008. We're in the middle of Season 3 right now. Last night, we watched an episode that featured a particularly heart-rending scene. I'm still thinking about it.
In the scene, the show's main character, Vic Mackey, who runs an L.A.P.D. Strike Team, visits a foster home where a friend's child has been placed. He finds the house in chaos and five children playing without supervision. He locates the toddler he's come to check on alone in a room, sitting on the floor and playing with a toy action figure. The foster parents are present but unconcerned. Mackey states the obvious—the couple is in it for the money. The stipends they receive for five children add up to a tidy sum. It's also clear that very little of the money is being spent on the children.
It's a horrifying scene, particularly because it has the ring of authenticity. We've all heard stories of similar situations found in actual foster homes. But it's one thing to hear stories, another to see such a situation convincingly dramatized. The couple in the television show isn't exactly abusing the children, just blatantly neglecting them. My dog gets far better care than these fictional children.
I don't regret taking good care of Cosmo. He's a living, sentient creature and part of my family. He deserves it. But surely foster children deserve to be lavished with at least as much love and attention as I give my dog. Few would disagree with that statement, but the reason I admire The Shield is that it presents painful material in a new way, one that makes me actually think about the terrible disparities that exist in our society.