An interesting debate over the city's portrayal is taking place at CBS, which has issued a new mandate for its hit show CSI: NY to "lighten up" and "go beyond the dark underbelly of downtown and capture more colorful and vibrant tales of the city." Despite the fact that the show is essentially *about* crime in New York, network higher-ups thought that their slipping ratings might be due to the fact that the city they were showing was not enough like that seen on Friends and Seinfeld. CSI creator Anthony Zuiker says the show is shifting to take a "brighter" NYC perspective. "When I go to New York City, I feel like I laugh a little, cry a little, learn a little and come home a different person. I want to capture all of that," said Zuiker to the Times. Uh, yeah. Gothamist, too.

According to the piece, CSI isn't alone in its too-dark depiction of the city since 9/11, with many producers having shifted from sitcom/safe charactizations to settings that "are dark and can try to break your heart."

The article also mentions an interesting bit of trivia that most of us (who don't regularly watch the WB's Everwood) wouldn't have picked up on: over three seasons, nearly every trauma suffered by the lead characters has been rooted in NYC--2000 miles away from the town where the series takes place.

"For us, the city represents the shattering of Andy's life and ego and where his life, his family's life, came tumbling down," said Greg Berlanti, the creator of Everwood. "The upcoming New York episodes will be the first time Andy has ever come back. He's probably terrified, and when he arrives, all of his worst nightmares come true."

Not everyone thinks the city is slipping back into the post-apocalyptic world of dangerous streets and grisly crime, however. In its first survey of the city since 1983, this week's Economist gives a rather rosy view of the city. The article notes that while from the late 1960s to the early 1980s films showed the world that New York was steeped in sleaze and violence (see Midnight Cowboy, The French Connection, Death Wish, Taxi Driver and Fort Apache, the Bronx), in more recent years the city has been largely depicted in "yawningly peaceful" sitcoms (see Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, etc..) The article draws these three shows together to say that they reflect NYC as "one big conversation," rather than as the cesspool it was thought to be before. Of course, the issue also ruins any possible credibility it might have had with the BREAKING NEWS! sidebar uncovering that the outer boroughs have become cool places to live.

What are your favorite noirish New York film or TV shows?