In what can only be described as a mc-article in USA Today last week, the writer tells us,

Smith sports a growing TV fashion: a coat of moral gray.

The new CBS drama follows a band of master thieves and is the latest series to feature a lead character of questionable virtue, joining The Sopranos, The Shield and Rescue Me. With Smith, the trend gets a stronger foothold in broadcast TV. It also is an intriguing choice for CBS because the network’s lineup of crime procedurals has helped make it the most-watched network.

I will admit that I’m a Sopranos fan, so I’m living in a glass house here. But it’s not that I object on some moral basis. But I find the implied justification curious.

Smith, a law-enforcement term for an unknown suspect, raises the moral stakes in its opening episode with an art heist that results in the death of a museum guard. Characters will face consequences both direct and indirect, Wells says.

But [lead characters] Bobby and Hope aren’t caricatures. They’re a loving couple raising two kids. Bobby, who coaches Little League and has a day job as a salesman, even has thoughts of giving up the criminal life.

Those aspects may help viewers relate to the characters, CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler says. “The thing that’s so unique about what John Wells is doing is that he’s placing these characters in real life. To that end, you get a chance to see them going to PTA meetings, raising their kids, going to 9-to-5 jobs.”

[Actor Ray] Liotta is drawn to his character’s contrasts. “Hope is the girl of my dreams. I’m not a philanderer. I love my wife and kids. I just also love to steal.”

Just wondering: What are the chances we’d see a series about young black kids who commit crimes, yet are portrayed sympathetically as part of a stable home, but maybe “love to steal”? My guess is there would be a hue and cry about the glorification of the criminal culture.

By the way, though not cited in the column, apparently Al Sharpton’s plea reverberated with Juan Williams. He’s not glorifying anything.