NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE FOR STARSKY AND HUTCH EPISODES.
Why am I so drawn to a show like Starsky and Hutch?
Many reasons. But they all come down to one thing:
I see Christ in this show.
Granted, every show has its flaws. In this case, Detectives Starsky and Hutch can be a bit too violent, and sometimes make comments that are a bit degrading to women. But despite all that, I see Christ in many, many ways—through the minor, often poor and criminal, characters; through the show’s portrayal of villains; through Starsky and Hutch’s interaction with both the poor and villains; and most of all through Starsky and Hutch themselves.
It can all be summed up in four words: sacrificial, unconditional love.
But I’ll explain that a little more.
The Humanity of Villains and the Poor
Starsky and Hutch features some interesting villains, and portrays them not simply as evil, but often as people dealing with grief, rage, or mental illness, or needing money to survive. These people are always “bad guys,” but are never not humans. They almost always have a story. Though Starsky and Hutch want justice, they do not enjoy bashing these people.
Nearly every episode also includes some kind of poor person, someone down on his luck, more than often as a result of dealing in crime. These people may be snitches for Starsky and Hutch, or may be random people who help the detectives in some way. I think of Angel in “Texas Longhorn,” Lionel in “Targets Without a Badge, Carla in “Survival,” the woman who calls the robbery in to the police and later wants her dime back in “Kill Huggy Bear,” the Jackson family in “Manchild on the Streets,” Huggy Bear himself, and myriad other prostitutes, addicts, immigrants, and people living in poverty. These people are not perfect, and their criminal background is often emphasized. Yet so is their humanity. They are not perfect, but they generally know what is right and wrong, and when help is genuinely needed they give it. Carla and Lionel both risk their own lives to help someone they know is in need—and not just someone, but someone (one of the detectives) who has power over them, someone who could potentially bring them down.
These are the people with whom Christ ate and drank in His day; these are the widows and orphans, the fatherless and aliens, whom God so cares about.
Which brings me to my next point: the way Starsky and Hutch treat the poor and in need. I mentioned this in my last article: Starsky and Hutch treat poor, underprivileged people just like they treat others, and in fact often treat them more sympathetically than they do wealthier (and frequently more corrupt) people. Starsky and Hutch refuse to blind themselves to these folks’ humanity; they don’t treat them as criminals or ne'er-do-wells but rather as human beings. They love these people, I believe, as God would love them.
The Dynamic Duo Themselves
But the most obvious way I see Christ’s love is in Starsky and Hutch themselves—more specifically, in their relationship with each other. These two are incredible, not just for their unbreakable bond but for how darn affectionate they are.
They would willingly lay down their lives for each other: Hutch endangers himself to save Starsky in “A Coffin for Starsky,” “Bloodbath,” and “The Shoot-Out,” and Starsky likewise spends all his resources fighting to save Hutch, not caring about his own safety, in “Survival,” “The Plague,” and “The Fix,” among others. In “The Fix” Starsky could easily pawn Hutch off on some hospital, but he knows doing that would likely cause Hutch to lose his job, and in many ways his purpose in life. Starsky, at risk of his own job and health, takes on Hutch’s withdrawal himself.
They became friends as police officers, but their friendship extends beyond that. They are life partners. They go over to each other’s apartments, fix each other meals (as Hutch does to cheer Starsky up in “Lady Blue”), and share food and drink. When Hutch admits he wants to quit the force in “Targets Without a Badge,” Starsky is willing to go with him without hesitation.
Physical evidence of their love is in their constant touching. Certainly when they are hurt they touch each other—by holding, stroking hair, hugging, etc.—but even in casual moments they are always in contact. Pats on the stomach, rear end, leg, arm, back; squeezes of shoulders and arms; smacks to the head; touches of hands; and a bunch of other little examples of physical touch throughout the series show their closeness. Not only are these two always there for each other, they remind each other of that when they are together by touching. The unconditional love Starsky and Hutch have for each other is a beautiful thing.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Indeed, no greater love. Starsky and Hutch embody this love, and remind me that even in this dark world, true love—the love of Christ—is actually possible. It is the reason I hope this show continues to be known and watched by generations to come.