The Bones Storylines That Don't Sit Right With Emily Deschanel

It's fascinating to look back and track shifts in the media landscape in response to the real world. One need only compare director Roland Emmerich's "Independence Day" — a whiz-bang 1990s blockbuster where A-listers crack wise while battling aliens hell-bent on conquering Earth — with director Steven Spielberg's grave and distressing post-9/11 take on "War of the Worlds" to see how a major historical event can result in two drastically different variations on the same genre template released less than 10 years apart.

In point of fact, by the time "Bones" premiered its 12th and final season on Fox in 2017, cultural attitudes had evolved dramatically from what they were at the start of the show's run in 2005. When Hart Hanson's procedural got going, the U.S. was only a few years into its joint invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with memories of the September 11 terrorist attacks still very much fresh on everybody's minds. I can assure you that, as someone who was there, for as much early criticism as the George W. Bush administration drew for its response to the attacks, speaking out against those invasions (or Bush and his cronies in general) was not the trendy thing to do at that juncture.

That being the case, it's probably reasonable to assume that "Bones" — a crime show that achieved mainstream popularity while airing on a notoriously conservative network in the aughts — didn't do a splendid job with storylines involving terrorist threats, even for its time. But you don't have to take my word for it; just ask Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan herself, Emily Deschanel.

The terrorism episodes aren't a great look

For Deschanel, rewatching "Bones" means being reminded of all the major changes she was going through in her life off-screen during its tenure (an experience that might be as nostalgic as it is cringe-inducing). It's what inspired her and her "Bones" co-star Carla Gallo to develop "Boneheads with Emily Deschanel and Carla Gallo (A Bones Rewatch Podcast)," now that she's fully recovered from the burnout of starring in almost 250 episodes of television across 12 years.

Speaking to TV Insider in 2023, Deschanel admitted that time has made it easier for her to revisit the series, adding, "And now I just have an affection for the show and for myself at the time." However, that doesn't mean she has her rose-tinted glasses on the entire time she rewatches it. "But I also am seeing some difficult episodes that have some things that I don't love in them," she explained. "When episodes would deal with terrorism in a way and in a way that, looking back, I don't love, and I'm not sure how I felt about at the time. It might have been uncomfortable."

As Deschanel pointed out, it can be difficult to revisit something you devoted countless hours of your life to working on only to uncover problematic elements, especially when we're talking about stuff that was mostly out of your control and you're not sure how you even felt about it back then. (I understand the feeling all too well myself.) At the same time, it's important to apply a critical eye to the past, lest you repeat the same mistakes. To her credit, Deschanel agrees; she now perceives the show "with affection and also a bit of criticism."

You can stream all 12 seasons of "Bones" on Hulu and Freevee now.