When I was a little kid, my dad was a fireman. And I wanted to be one too.
I'd run around the house in my plastic firefighter's hat and ride on pretend fire trucks (the piano bench) while singing fireman-related songs. I knew all the songs, but I didn't quite know what it meant to be a fireman, other than you slid down poles and rode cool trucks, oh, and that it had something to do with fires. I just knew that if my dad did it, it had to be awesome.
I doubt my father's career was much like what we see in Chicago Fire. This is not to impugn NBC's series for its lack of realism, mind you. Dad was fighting fires in rural New Mexico, which probably wouldn't resemble the urban flare-ups and rescue missions that this program showcases.
Nor do I envision my dad's fire department as being quite so … soapy. Perhaps no fire station in the country can match Chicago's Firehouse 51 when it comes to flat-out melodrama. Most firefighters, I'd imagine, probably get drama aplenty outside the station's doors, and don't feel the need to foster more of it internally. Not so here. Examples:
Matthew Casey, the young lieutenant for Truck 81, struggles with his relationship with fiancée Hallie, with his friendships in the firehouse and with a crooked cop or two. Paramedic Gabriela Dawson struggles with her feelings for Casey. Fellow paramedic Leslie Shay struggles with her lesbian relationship with a married, pregnant former/current lover. Kelly Severide struggles with an on-the-job injury and his subsequent reliance on illicit painkillers. Chief Boden struggles with his family, his responsibilities and … well, if the drama continues for even a full season, a fire barrel full of other things too, I'd imagine.
Yes, there's a whole lot of sudsy struggling going on here—so much so that viewers might struggle to keep all the plots and subplots and sub-subplots straight. They'll certainly struggle to sort out the characters' morals.
So it can actually be a relief when the firefighters dive into the streets of Chicago and fight some actual fires, rescue some injured people and deliver the occasional baby. In spite of all the distractions that may burble and bubble over at Firehouse 51, these men and women know their jobs, and they do them well. Chicago Fire doggedly preserves the sense that they are heroes of the highest order—concerned with the city's well-being and the citizens therein.
But we don't really need to watch a television show to remind us of that, do we? Any kid in a red, plastic firefighter's hat could tell you what a hero looks like.
It's Thanksgiving at Firehouse 51, but Chicago won't let the guys eat. Instead they're dodging bullets in a shootout and saving a couple of downed gang members. They rescue a family from a deep-fried turkey gone crazy—but not before the garage fire takes out a snowmobile and family members get into a fistfight. They patch up people involved in a multicar pileup, including a guy gushing blood from his neck.
That's outside. Inside, we see Casey and Hallie in bed together, obviously having sex. Severide desperately tries to evade a drug test; Shay eventually gives him her urine (in a cup) to give to the inspector. We see Severide pop a powerful narcotic. We hear a reference to crack. People drink shots of whiskey.
A teen calls Brody a "b‑‑ch." We hear other curses, too, including "h‑‑‑" (four or five times), "d‑‑n" (twice), "p‑‑‑" (once), "a‑‑" (once), "b‑‑ch" (another time), a use of "frickin'" and an aborted s-word (along with a reference to "BS"). God's name is misused.