The focus of my web series, Broken Hearts Division, is an unsung department in the LAPD that is tasked with handling crimes of the heart. At the head of this division is Officer Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Merriweather, a cop who has made it her mission to find justice for the broken-hearted. She seeks out ‘perpetrators’ in support of ‘victims’ to solve these crimes.
The journey to making this series has been a labor of love and several years in the making. Through that time, the project from its earliest form to what was shot last year has been modified in many ways, from the cast of characters to the structure. The heart of the project, however, has always been the uncovering of these love crimes as well as Officer Merriweather, the cop who won’t deal with her own broken heart.
In the first season, the love crimes we tackle include “Assault with a Deadly Text,” “Lying with No Intent to Call,” “Failure to Commit Online Dating Fraud,” “High-Speed Chase to Marriage,” and “Serial Dating.” Often, they are ones that go undetected, and in my (and Officer Merriweather’s) opinion, if we were kinder to each other, the world would be a safer place to love.
There is a policing methodology called the “broken windows theory.” It uses the metaphor of a broken window and the action of consistently fixing the broken window – small as it may be – to maintain order within neighborhoods. The reverse shows that when left unchecked and unfixed, this broken window begets more crime and leads to more chaos for the neighborhood. It is a belief that if we handle the small crimes, the big crimes diminish as well. When the theory was put into practice in the late 80s and early 90s in New York City, it came with controversy. The fact remains, however, that crime in the city went down. It dropped 56 percent, compared to 26 percent in the rest of the country.
While these crimes we tackle in Broken Hearts Division may appear benign, they have the potential to lead to more significant crimes. Yes, I am saying that many different little slights could lead to something bigger. Consider this: Have you ever been confronted with a slight that stung? Does it sting when someone says they’ll call and never do? Does it sting when someone who you’ve been friends with shuns you? Of course it does. Your heart breaks just a little each time. Left unchecked, one might believe that a broken heart begets another broken heart. There’s a phrase that is often a red flag for the perpetration of a love crime: “I’m fine.” “I’m fine” is the tipping point because it means, “I’m not fine, but I feel silly being not fine with this situation.” “I’m fine” is being aware of the sting and not truly acknowledging it, and up to this point, there has never been a department to fight that injustice. Enter, Broken Hearts Division.
Throughout the show, the ‘perpetrators’ of these love crimes say there are no rules for their behavior. There’s no law against not calling back, for instance. But when you look at the court of law, you can try intent. You can prove intent.
In the case of episode two, “Lying With No Intent To Call,” perpetrator Erika had made very clear promises to Beth on their date, but she lied. One can try lying in a court of law. There are rules against perjury and falsification, but somehow these rules don’t apply to interpersonal relationships, only business. People perjure, make false promises, commit fraud, and practice continual acts of bait-and-switch in the love and dating department. Leaving these slights unchecked is like leaving the window ‘broken,’ and before you know it, society starts falling apart and there’s chaos. Fortunately, the Broken Hearts Division is there to help.
I can’t think of a more chaotic scene for love than today’s dating scene. Human life and people’s hearts have become swipeable, and people treat connections as disposable. A connection in passing is one thing, but when promises are made and never kept – in essence, left in the balance – one wonders if we have entirely lost sight of the Golden Rule in our high-speed, over-stimulated culture.
The comedy lies in the fact that our heroine, Officer Merriweather, is a cop who believes in right and wrong and rules for these infractions of the heart. The heart moves like a river, and how can one police a river? How could you impart rules on feelings? Doesn’t one have the right to change their mind? What if someone really believes what they’re saying in the moment but changes their mind? This is the playground for the series.
Broken Hearts Division was born out of frustration with the lack of kindness in this culture. This show is my way of shining a light on these crimes with the hope that with a little awareness, we can all make the streets safer to love.
Nicole Feenstra produced, wrote, and stars in this absurd comedy web series, now streaming on YouTube. Have a love crime? Submit it here. Follow @bhd_tv on Twitter and Instagram.