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Content Analysis: Miami Vice

When I was a kid my favorite TV show was Miami Vice. It aired after my bedtime, so my parents taped it and made me fast forward through certain scenes. Sonny Crockett was my idol for three reasons:

  1. He lived on a boat
  2. He had a pet alligator that guarded the boat
  3. He drove his Ferrari Daytona Spyder like I drove my big wheel—fast and reckless

As with Garbage Pail Kids, the fascination at some point ended.

…fast forward to a few weeks ago…

I’m sitting in my living room clicking through Netflix titles, trying to unwind from work. I come across seasons 1, 2, and 3 of Miami Vice and for some reason decide to watch all 68 episodes, in a row, over the course of a few weeks. Being a researcher I couldn’t help but qualitatively analyze them.

Here’s my key finding:

  • As Crockett’s hair goes up the quality of writing goes down

In the beginning of the series, Crockett’s hair is long in the front and loosely combed back. As the series progresses it slowly turns into a spiked mullet. This coincides with a rapid decline in writing that begins in season three.

I dropped off towards the end of the third season, right after “Viking Bikers from Hell,” an episode in which common street punks terrorize Miami and refer to their motorcycles as “scooters.” Sonny’s hair in the episode: spiked up and out, looking a little more tamed than Tina Turner’s at the time.

So the Crocket Correlation explains why I lost interest in Miami Vice as an adult. Here’s why I lost interest in the show as a kid…

  1. Scenes that include Crockett’s floating home become few and far between
  2. Elvis—the guard gator—fails to stop a break-in and never appears again
  3. An arms dealer blows up the Spyder early in the third season. It’s then replaced by a Ferrari Testarossa which is probably faster and more expensive than the Spyder, but in no way resembles a big wheel

We only really got three seasons of quality from Miami Vice. Amazing considering the impact it has had on pop culture. Today the show continues to be a major symbol of the ‘80s. In a time known for excess, when people lived fast and died young, I guess it makes a lot of sense.

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