Something bizarre happened weeks and months after 9/11. It had nothing to do with the armed ferry boats or Mike Piazza hitting an eventual game-winning home in baseball's first game back in New York. No, what was so bizarre was the systemic loss of the Twin Towers throughout pop culture. Perhaps movie and network executives took Laura Bush's statement about parents not to letting their children see pictures of 9/11 over and over a bit too far.
One of the best Simpsons episodes of all time had to be pulled from syndication because it featured two guys, one in each tower, bickering back and forth. It's an instant classic yet it was pulled from syndication. A Spiderman teaser trailer had to be pulled; Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: SVU had to redo their opening credits, as did The Sopranos and Sex and the City. Movies filmed in New York before the attacks had to digitally erase the Twin Towers from the background of some scenes, as if the World Trade Center was some artifact from a past relationship that needed to be erased from our minds a la, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
We were asked to "Never Forget," yet with television shows and movies cropping the towers out, how could you not forget?
Thankfully, some shows had memories. On July 21, 2004 FX network premiered Rescue Me, a series that followed the lives of a fictional fire department in Harlem dealing with the aftermath of losing their coworkers and loved ones who died on 9/11. In September of that same year CSI: NY debuted on CBS and showcased Gary Sinise's character dealing with the loss of his wife during 9/11. It took nearly three years for television programs to portray the struggles that many people were dealing with everyday, but -- slowly -- they were.
Then came the ultimate comeback moment. On May 12, 2009 FOX aired the season finale of Fringe, a science-fiction series that follows a fictional government team which solves bizarre crimes using fringe science methods. In the last scene of the finale, the lead character is transported to a parallel universe. We know it's a parallel universe because as the camera pans out we see that she stands in one of the top floors of the still standing World Trade Center. Welcome back.
After that, television seemed to exhale. That Simpsons episode is back in rotation; the towers can be seen on exterior shots of Friends again. Just this week, an enterprising video editor put together a Twin Towers supercut, featuring many -- if not all -- of the exterior shots of the towers in film and television from their birth to untimely death.
As a native New Yorker, I grew up riding the Staten Island Ferry into the city, staring up at the enormous Twin Towers everyday during my commute; I miss them. I never forgot. We should all be glad shows like Rescue Me and Fringe didn't either.