Gale Albright focuses on “Broadchurch” to compare characterization of women detectives in British television series with those in crime shows made for American TV. Tight slacks and stilettos, anyone?
In crime fiction, women traditionally have taken on roles of helpmeet/spouse or devil temptress. It’s the old good girl/bad girl, Madonna/whore dichotomy so prevalent in literature, movies, and television. A great example of this dichotomy appears in the classic noir film, The Maltese Falcon.
Mary Astor is the seductive, murdering femme fatale, Bridget O’Shaughnessy. Lee Patrick plays Sam Spade’s girl Friday, Effie Perrine. She is obviously devoted to him, is on call to do his bidding 24/7 and lives with her mother. He never notices her except to say things like “You’re a good man, sister.” He plays around with Iva Archer, his partner’s wife. She is not on screen long, but she makes it count. When Miles is murdered, she forces her way into Sam’s office, draped head to toe in stylish black, somehow looking sexy, and asks Sam if he killed Miles because he…
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