Each year in the United States, 7.5 million individuals are the victims of stalking. They live their lives in fear and worry that they are being tracked. They are anxious, depressed, and most of all afraid.
Stalker, starring Dylan McDermott, premiered on CBS on Wednesday night. Thursday morning, the National Center for Victims of Crime released an official statement addressed to CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, condemning the show and reminding CBS that "stalking, more than any other crime, is routinely misidentified, dismissed, or downplayed. The show further contributes to the glorification and normalization of the crime."
In the letter, Michelle M. Garcia, the Director of the Stalking Resource Center, writes about how glamorized and hyper-violent the show portrays stalking to be but ends with a stronger plea:
"The show's creator, Kevin Williamson, has responded to critics by telling them to 'change the channel.' We are calling on television viewers to do exactly that. We are asking national advertisers whose commercials aired during the show to pull their spots and we are asking that you immediately remove Stalker from the schedule. If CBS is truly serious about raising awareness, engage with us to contribute to a meaningful, national dialogue about the very real consequences of this horrific crime."
She's hardly the first to make this plea. Vox's own Todd Vanderwerff wrote that "the show attempts to make stalking seem sort of edgy and sexy and cool, and it occasionally doubles as a how-to manual for the crime. Ick." The A.V. Club's Genevieve Valentine wrote that "the most disturbing thing about the show: Underneath its calculated, moist-palms glee, underneath its transparent hope that people will tune in for the macabre thrill of watching an assembly line of victims fail the cop-enforced safety rubric in an easily blameable way, this is a show that thinks it's engaging the subject rather than just recreating it."
Ultimately, the National Center for Victims of Crime's concerns about the show are completely understandable. Seen in certain lights, the series glamorizes a crime that hurts millions of Americans, and that's not something to "change the channel" over. It's something worth hoping for quick cancellation over.