Wednesday, June 23, 2010


BY Alexandra Sparco

I never planned on watching “Criminal Minds” when I saw the promos. Frankly, it seemed like just another cop show, and “Without a Trace” was my cop show obsession back then (unless you count “Alias.”)

However, when I was flipping through the channels one day, bored to death and thinking nothing could perk me back up, I spotted something. Backtracking, and then stopping on the program in question, I noticed that it was A.J. Cook on my television screen. I had just discovered “Tru Calling” on DVD, and to be completely honest I immediately became a fan of A.J.’s and her character Lindsey after she uttered a slightly profane greeting to her friend (portrayed by Eliza Dushku) on the phone. I kept CriMi on for the rest of the night, and loved the entire thing. I still remember the exact episode, 1x02 “Compulsion,” as it was A.J.’s first episode, and it remains my favorite to this day.

The second episode I ever viewed completely was 1x12 “What Fresh Hell,” and I didn’t even know it was Criminal Minds. Being that it was set in my home state of Delaware, and our little state is rarely featured in anything mainstream, I decided to watch as soon as I saw the location title. Soon thereafter, I realized that it was “that show with A.J. Cook in it”, and made a note to watch the show every week until the end of the season. “What Fresh Hell” was also the episode that cemented JJ as my favorite character on the show, as I loved the snarky remark she made to the Pennsylvania reporter regarding his tie.

After season one ended, I made sure to catch every new episode of CriMi as it aired. During season two I started to realize that Criminal Minds wasn’t “that cop show with A.J. Cook in it,” but rather “Criminal Minds – that cop show with the awesome characters, episodes, and everything else in between.” That season also brought us Paget Brewster as Prentiss, who - actress and character - also became another favorite of mine (although it honestly took awhile since I was a fan of Lola Glaudini’s character “Elle”). I also became a member of the online fandom for the show during that time, discovering the CMF blog, and realizing there were other fans of JJ, A.J. and the show whom I could talk to. Soon thereafter, I started to help maintain a separate fansite, and officially started using “jareaufan” as my moniker on most online websites. JJ was the coolest, and just because “everybody else” loved Reid, Morgan, Gideon, and Hotch didn’t mean I had to hide the immediate fact that JJ was my favorite any longer. Google also became a good resource during the 2006-2007 year, as I was determined to know who exactly A.J. Cook was. I was a fan of Lindsey, and now JJ, and I had yet to figure out who portrayed them. What I found informed me that Ms. Cook was just a normal person who just happened to be an actor, she stayed out of the limelight, and was just simply herself. I respected that about her, as most celebrities just seemed to be seeking fame and attention, and she immediately became my celebrity role model. Someone who wasn’t afraid to just be herself, and live her life to her standards, not those that Hollywood seems to force on people.

Season three, season four, and season five allowed us slightly more insight into JJ’s life, as she gained a boyfriend, son, and we found out that she had a family and why she joined the FBI (although I still refuse to believe that scene ever happened).

I was sure that season six would have showcased JJ even more, she had gained a pretty steady following, and had never really received a “backstory episode” comparable to any of the other characters.

In summation, without A.J. being on the show, I would have never started watching it, I would have never appreciated JJ and the rest of the characters, fell in love with the show, or found out how much of a great celebrity role model A.J. was.

Without JJ/A.J on the show (even if I do continue to watch it), the show won’t be the same – and not just for JJ/A.J. fans like myself. One part of the ensemble that made Criminal Minds so special will be gone. This character and actress departing is not just another “cast change” to me, I sat through two of those already. Removing Ms. Cook is like loosening a bicycle chain, the rest of the machine just won’t work properly.