To what extent is gender implicated in the construction and portrayal of the modern heroine in crime genre on UK television?
(2013) To what extent is gender implicated in the construction and portrayal of the modern heroine in crime genre on UK television?, no. 50.
The stimulus for this dissertation's focus emanates from a comment made by Sarah Michelle Gellar: "It seems, ultimately, that box office is male-driven, or child-driven...television is where the better roles are for women" (Wilson 2011). It has become noticeably apparent that, within television crime drama, tenacious female roles are on the rise. However, the skill these "freaky fembots" (Gold 2013) display within their occupation invariably comes at a price. Whether it be single parenthood, alcoholism, a complex love life or lack of, the only grounding element in these females' lives is their job. Utilising Sigmund Freud's (1856-1939) theory of the castration complex, derived from the much-analysed Oedipus complex, this dissertation discusses three British television programmes portraying females as the solo protagonist (Blue Murder, 2003), duo protagonists (Scott and Bailey, 2011) and the sidekick protagonist (Trial and Retribution, 1997). The opening and closing episodes of each programmes' first series are analysed to explore character and plot line continuity, while ensuring neutrality in the discussion's outcomes. By employing a Freudian reading to these programmes, the evolution of the British female detective, spanning fourteen years between them, can be seen in relation to progressing social and cultural attitudes towards issues such as racism and gender. Through investigation of the programmes' leading women, their lives and relationships, the question of whether or not their crippling vulnerability (but impeccable work credentials) is a reaction to what has been predominately seen in leading male characters is explored.