The romantic relationships on Criminal Minds weren’t exactly the point of the show — but they still helped fans of the CBS drama stay invested in the characters throughout fifteen seasons. Some ships sailed (and sunk) quickly, and some never came to fruition, but others were explored over the course of several seasons, to varying degrees of success.
One of the more controversial relationships in the Criminal Minds-verse was between fan-favorite genius BAU agent Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and manipulative hitwoman Cat Adams (series guest star Aubrey Plaza). The pair met face-to-face a handful of times throughout the course of the show, each one proving to be an especially dramatic affair.
Recently, when the topic of Reid and Cat’s roller coaster-esque relationship came up on the Criminal Minds subreddit, fans had a wide variety of opinions on whether the storyline was worth their time. Some admitted to finding it entertaining, while others had some serious issues with it.
Here’s why fans are so divided about Reid’s relationship with Cat.
Spencer Reid’s relationship with Cat Adams falls into the “It’s Complicated” category
When Cat Adams entered the Criminal Minds landscape in the Season Eleven episode “Entropy,” she became one of the more unforgettable unsubs in the series’ entire run. A savvy assassin with a penchant for playing games, she took a special interest in Spencer Reid throughout her four-episode run. Their first encounter resulted in her holding him at gunpoint. Their last involved her terrorizing him over the fate of his mother and made him believe she was pregnant with his child.
Their relationship was, to put it mildly, complicated — though they were, in many ways, a match, from an intellectual standpoint, it’s hard to argue that Cat Adams was a good influence on Spencer’s life. She psychologically tormented and manipulated him on more than one occasion.
The high tension aspect of Cat and Reid’s relationship certainly made for good television. However, the qualms some fans have with it had more to do with how it affected Reid as a character.
Many fans were just not feeling the onscreen chaotic nature of Reid and Cat’s relationship
The tortured nature of Reid’s connection to Cat Adams is at the crux of why many Criminal Minds‘ fans struggle to root for the characters’ relationship, despite any chemistry they may have had on screen. As seen in the aforementioned discussion post about Cat Adams on the /r/CriminalMinds forum, one user, wakatoshikun, asked why some fans “ship” Reid and Cat together, arguing that their relationship felt forced.
Other fans chimed in with their opinions, and while a few fans admitted they enjoyed watching the two together, many others agreed with the poster that the relationship wasn’t their favorite. One user, doesntmattertomee, called it their “least favorite part of the show.” Another user, edgyfrick, argued that their relationship wasn’t good for Reid, pointing out that “didn’t cat like… somewhat ruin his life for a while there?
Other users disliked the dynamic, but enjoyed the acting. Another fan, geeweeze, made the perfectly reasonable point that not only was Cat “terrible and toxic,” but these traits meant there was really no way for them to be together in any real way. However, geeweeze also thought the two’s onscreen dynamic was fascinating — toxicity aside — on a storytelling level, writing that, “I thought they did have great chemistry and it was exciting to see Reid match up with her games. The idea that she occupied a corner of darkness in his mind, and he might be attracted to her intelligence, which was used for evil and was the flip side of HIS intelligence he used for good, was exciting in a counterintuitive way.”
At least in the Reddit corner of the Criminal Minds‘ fandom, the consensus seems to be that while Matthew Gray Gubler and Aubrey Plaza’s chemistry was compelling, the relationship between their characters on screen was a miss.