Chicago Fire





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

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.

Smokey Cares

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.

Relationships spark, fizzle and occasionally explode. More love smolders than hot coals at a firewalker convention. Rarely do things get particularly graphic, but 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. And, in all fairness, they do so pretty regularly.

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.

Episode Reviews

Feb. 17, 2021: “Dead of Winter”

The men and women at Firehouse 51 dash out to douse a fire at a homeless encampment; an exploding propane tank nearly takes down Cruz, who’s expecting his first child with his wife. He’s leery of telling her about his close call, though, not wanting to worry her. But the rest of the firehouse has a bigger problem on its hands: The fire may have been intentionally set—and with an eye toward murder.

A man suffers some bad, bloody burns on his chest. He’s nearly unconscious when he’s taken away from the fire. In the hospital later, he’s clearly in pain. Cruz’s own injury amounts to just a bloody wound on his cheek, but a fellow firefighter says the shrapnel nearly “Ned Starked” him (a reference to a famous decapitation scene in Game of Thrones). Later, someone describes the potential lethality more clinically, telling Cruz that the shrapnel was just an inch away from his carotid artery. A man’s hand and arm get crushed by a tombstone. (The guy’s broken forearm is graphically obvious beneath his skin.) Blood is seen on the ground below. Someone dies offscreen. We see fires rage and people blown back by explosions.

After paramedic Sylvie Brett breaks things off with Capt. Matthew Casey, she meets a new potential beau. Another couple smokes cigars outside the firehouse as the ex of one walks on by, and one plots to appear more dangerous to keep his lover’s interest. A homeless girl insinuates that homeless shelters are dangerous places for women.

People drink beer and mixed drinks. Two characters admit to feeling nauseous from the cigars they’re smoking. We hear a reference to an overdose. A guy admits to losing $300 in a poker tournament. Someone tells his wife that she was pretty rude to a plumber, and that her “profanity was off the charts.” As for profanity that viewers hear, that’s sequestered to just a smattering of swears: one use of “a–,” one of “d–n” and three of “h—.”

Nov. 21, 2012: “Two Families”

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.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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