Successful Female Crime Drama Leads: Where Does that Leave Motherhood?

1047 Words5 Pages
In recent years, there has been a gender shift in crime dramas on television. In the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, the viewer saw the lead characters to be heavily male dominated with a woman thrown in for mostly sex appeal. The shift from the stereotypical nuclear family, with a stay-at-home mom, has impacted many genres of television programing and exemplified in Paul Cantor’s “The Simpson: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family,” when referring to the deviation from a historic ideal family “in fact [the breakdown] should be regarded as a form of liberation from an image of the family that may have been good enough for the 1950’s but is no longer valid in the 1990’s” (737). Popular television has extracted “women” from their “household”…show more content…
However, the viewer never really sees her as a mother but as an agent in the FBI. Deborah Jermyn examines this issue in “Women with a Mission: Lynda La Plante, DCI Jane Tennison and the Reconfiguration of TV Crime Drama,” in which she claims, “to cross the boundaries of equality of profession and establish credibility, many of the lead females are portrayed as single and childless or an absentee parent (48). The negative message sent to viewers is that motherhood takes a back seat to a career that has importance. While there are women who will choose a career over motherhood, for most women motherhood and the caring of their child is a priority in their life. This portrayal of motherhood undermines the reality of what motherhood is to a woman.
Crime dramas also tend to portray women as unable to have a career and simply be happy. Women are unrealistically portrayed in the workplace. There always seems to be a character that is running from a personal demon. There is Olivia Benson in Law and Order: SVU who cannot maintain a meaningful relationship with a man. She is either constantly single or sucked into a relationship that has several problems such as a boyfriend on the police force who finds himself in a bind because of his tendency to indulge in illegal activities. CSI’s Catherine Willows always struggled with motherhood and being a single mom. She has an ex-husband who, for the longest time throughout the
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