Pauley Perrette

Cliff Lipson/CBS

I hear NCIS is America's favorite TV show. Who watches NCIS anyway? And why is it so popular?
—Jennifer Y., via Facebook

You speak of that scrappy-military-crime-investigation-unit show, ostensibly led by Mark Harmon but totally dominated by Pauley Perrette and her goth ponytails. Those ponytails kick butt at forensics, kids, and you know what demographic appreciates that the most?

People over 55. Your mom loves herself some NCIS, and I mean that as the farthest thing from an insult.

According to Nielsen, the largest chunk of the NCIS viewership consists of folk age 55 or older. We're talking 11.4 million 55-plussers per week, with about 6.7 million of those, women in that age group.

And last year, a Harris Poll crowned NCIS America's favorite show.

As for why so many older viewers love Harmon and Perrette's series, I went straight to the source: my dad.

I recently called Ron Gornstein to ask why he loves NCIS. I even asked him to discuss it via phone on my podcast, but, as he explained to me, "I'm watching an episode of NCIS right now."

Here's the gist of his explanation: He came for the murders, he stayed for the characters.

"It's not about the crimes anymore," he tells his little B!tch. "It's more about the interactions in the characters' lives between solving crimes. At first, CSI was my favorite show. But once William Petersen kind of left, the show went on with other people filling the role, and the show never got back to where it was."

As for Perrette, folks can't get enough of her.

"She's probably one of my favorite characters," Dad says. "She's not what you expect in a professional organization like NCIS, yet she's one of the leader's favorites because of her work ethic and how good she is at what she does."

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