CBS shared a behind-the-scenes photo from the Blue Bloods set earlier this week, showing star Len Cariou wearing a face mask at the Reagan family dinner table. It was a sign that the show is taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously on the opposite side of the camera, even though it is not mentioned in the show. The series' 11th season is set in a post-COVID-19 world, meaning actors are not seen wearing face masks or taking coronavirus precautions when the cameras are rolling.
The coronavirus pandemic hit Blue Bloods in a number of ways, even if audiences are not seeing it play out in the show itself. First off, Season 10 was cut short, with only 19 of the 22 planned episodes produced. Season 11 also started production late, so only 16 episodes are planned. The season will also end a little later than usual, with a two-hour finale airing on Friday, May 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
In an interview with PopCulture in November, Will Estes, who plays Sgt. Jamie Reagan said he was not sure how the series would handle the pandemic until the last moment. The writers and producers opted not to write in the pandemic, since they understand many viewers watch the show as an escape from reality. Plus, if the series really did include the pandemic, the famous Reagan family dinner scenes would be almost impossible to include. "I think it might be really nice for audiences to see the show without the pandemic," Estes explained. "So, that's the choice we made.
"We're not wearing masks on the show and so on and so forth," Estes continued. "We obviously are wearing masks behind the scenes, but we're not doing that on the show... I think the benefit to that is people will get to tune in and see Blue Bloods and step away from some of the difficult things that are going on in our everyday lives right now. I think that that might be the best way that we can serve our audience."
The dinner scenes are the moments with the most cast members on the set at once since the show's format usually means only a couple of stars are in the majority of scenes together. When Marissa Ramirez, who plays Det. Maria Baez filmed the dinner scene featured in the Season 11 premiere, she was a little nervous because it was the first time she was around so many people since the pandemic began. "It was emotional and a little nerve-racking for me, as it was the first time I was in a room with so many people without masks on," she told PopCulture in March. Ramirez also pointed out that every precaution is being taken behind-the-scenes, with everyone getting tested during filming.
Showrunner Kevin Wade echoed Estes' comments in an interview with Deadline. He also noted that they decided many people are not tuning in to Blue Bloods to see a documentary or real life. "After a lot of talk, we made a decision not to play our actors in masks," he said. "We thought we can acknowledge the pandemic, which we do with a story in our first episode, and we acknowledge the rise of a very visible conflict really chasmed between black communities and police forces in a lot of cities." New episodes of Blue Bloods air on CBS at 10 p.m. ET on Fridays. Past episodes are available to stream on Paramount+ and available to watch on Hulu with a free trial.