#afeministtakeon: The Fall
According to Sophia Softky on bitch mag, The Fall* subverts traditional gender roles in crime dramas. Examples (and spoilers for S2) below. Also, reading this about The Fall (because, holy smokes, it was good!), it’s hard to imagine Dornan playing that godawful Christen Grey. I’m trying not to think about it too much.
There is a moment halfway through season two of BBC serial killer drama The Fall when the indomitable Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) rebuffs a pathetic advance from her drunken boss. Afterwards, as he sits nursing a bloody nose on the edge of her hotel room bathtub, he asks Gibson, “Why are women spiritually and emotionally so much stronger than men?”
She replies coolly, “Because the basic human form is female. Maleness is a kind of birth defect.”
I had to pause the show and take stock. Was this still real life or had I finally begun to hallucinate my own fantasies into television shows? While that moment might have been the most overtly feminist line of dialogue spoken on the The Fall so far, it’s far from an isolated moment within the context of the show. From the first episode, The Fall has taken pains to establish—sometimes ham-fistedly—an explicitly sex-positive, pro-women ethos that is rare in such a notoriously fraught TV genre.
In contrast to the range of capable, accomplished, and principled female characters who either assist the ludicrously competent Gibson in catching serial killer Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) or are targeted by him, on The Fall there is hardly a single sympathetic male character. Indeed, showrunner Allan Cubitt seems to take grim satisfaction in representing every brand of male violence (physical, sexual, discursive) imaginable. The men of Gibson’s police department are largely dense, corrupt and victim-blaming. Then there’s also a defrocked pedophile priest, a rage-filled man who beats his wife, and of course there Spector himself, who loves his children, hates abortion, and spends his nights methodically stalking and strangling professionally successful women.
Rest: Bitch Media.
Sophia is an aspiring critic and wayward American living in Melbourne, Australia (for now).
- The Fall is, of course, not without its faults. While its lead character – Stella Gibson – was a fairly perfect example of how women should be represented on television, it has also been rightly criticised for its glamorising of violence against women, its sexualisation of women’s bodies (after violence), and its use of an impossibly attractive actor to play the killer (thus encouraging the idea that, really, it’s all rather enjoyable because who wouldn’t want to roughed about by Dornan etc.).
Nonetheless, as television goes, the Fall was a pretty good start.
(Orig. posted on)