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Criminal Minds: Evolution Boss Reveals NSFW Change She Was Excited To Bring To Paramount+ Revival

Rossi in vest holding gun on Criminal Minds: Evolution
(Image credit: Paramount+)

While the majority of major TV revivals take a while to return to the small screen after their initial exits, that’s not entirely the case for the upcoming continuation series Criminal Minds: Evolution, which will debut on Paramount+ less than three years after its untimely finale at CBS. The crime drama’s transition from linear to streaming will feature some distinct changes, such as a shorter season that will focus on a single case, as opposed to procedural storytelling. Now, showrunner Erica Messer has shed some light on an NSFW addition that she was excited to bring to the world of Criminal Minds now that they were away from broadcast networks.

While speaking to press for Paramount+’s Television Critics Association panel centering on Criminal Minds: Evolution — where it was revealed that the revival will premiere its first two episodes on Thursday, November 24 — Messer was asked if the series was going to be even darker on a streaming platform, with Midnight Mass vet Zach Gilford’s serial killer being focused on throughout the season. Here’s how the showrunner began her answer, which will probably be a relief to anyone nervous about things getting hyper-gory. 

It has definitely broadened our scope. I'm very aware that like teenage kids watch this show, and I'm more aware now because my kids who were born on this show are now high school age. And while they've not watched it - because I think there was like a reaction for them, [where] they knew I wrote something scary, and they never wanted to be a part of it - their friends watch it. I think it's because I'm aware of that, but I never wanted us to go into full Rated-R, extra violence, anything that would suddenly feel like a very different series. But we live in the world longer, and so because of that, it's almost like you just get to live and breathe in this space, and it can be a disturbing space to live in.

That feeling of newfound sensitivity later in life is something that many parents can likely sympathize with, as certain protective instincts kick in that weren’t so prevalent before. But while Messer may not have wanted Criminal Minds: Evolution to get more visually horrific for everyone streaming with a Paramount+ subscription, she was apparently eager to up the threshold for NSFW language, particularly where Joe Mantegna’s Rossi is concerned. In her words:

So while I don't think you're going to be shocked at the graphics being worse, or anything like that, there is some language that I feel is very appropriate, even though some might consider it inappropriate. I think that the frustrations that these heroes are living and dealing with are worthy of a couple of words that they drop in these first few episodes. Joe's character especially. It just sounds normal. It sounds like what they would have been saying all along. So that part, I'm kind of excited about, because I feel like the dialogue feels more authentic in that sense of law enforcement.

While she wasn’t so specific about the kinds of language that Joe Mantegna’s Rossi will be using in Criminal Minds: Evolution, it’s probably easy to assume that it’ll be a fair bit stronger than “son of a bitch” and other language that CBS does allow, if not hyper-frequently. And we don’t even need to make assumptions when it comes to Mantegna’s comfort with using such foul language, as he followed up Messer’s thoughts by saying:

Pretty normal for Joe, so it's a short stretch for me.

It’s intriguing that Rossi is the only character who was referenced by way of going blue with some of the dialogue. Paget Brewster’s natural new look for Emily Prentiss doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to dropping F-bombs in the heat of an emotional moment, though I feel like Kirsten Vangsness’ surprise return as Penelope Garcia could be ripe for some interesting dialogue additions, especially when her hair is most striking

Elsewhere in the panel, Erica Messer shared that Joe Mantegna’s character in particular is going through some personal issues that will have a ripple effect on the rest of the BAU team. So while I’m not so excited to see Rossi facing woes after the joyful wedding party that concluded the CBS run, I am now hoping to see the team leader calling someone a motherfucker at least once an episode. Extra cool points if he uses his Fat Tony voice from The Simpsons

Criminal Minds: Evolution will premiere the first two installments of its ten-episode season on Paramount+ on Thursday, November 24, which is Thanksgiving Day for those without a calendar handy. You can find the previous 15 seasons (opens in new tab) there as well to catch up on before the new story begins. Speaking of calendars, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other shows are hitting the small screen before the year’s end. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.