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The Black Female Cop and the Case of the Uncontrollable White Male.

I am hoarding TV shows and while this makes me seem friendless, lazy and pathetic, it gives me great joy and even some deep frustrations, but mostly it gives me food for thought.

So not that sad actually.

When watching so many TV shows simultaneously you start seeing connections between them. Even when there is none. But that is a medical condition and not the subject of this rant.

Lately TV shows combine police investigations with sci fi and/or supernatural threats. Most of them even turning to the fantastic when working cases. It is quite the trend!

Multiple reality checks vs sci fi/fantasy.
Badge vs evil, sort off.

Wearing said badge is usually a very competent female Afro-American police officer. What most of them have in common; a white male bringing chaos into their world.

Men who rely on their gut feeling, magic and even crime.
Men with a mission.
With secrets.

Men who need protection.
From themselves, but mostly from others.

Should I tread lightly now, you say?
Being a white middle-aged middleclass woman.

I will jump right in then.

Firstly, worth mentioning when taking on this trope, is Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) in CBSPerson of Interest (2011-), the show that least rely on supernatural stuff but is very much a science fiction mystery show.

PERSON OF INTERESTDetective Carter is a confident single mom and an excellent detective. She is in control of both her work and personal life; although you could say, she is somewhat boring. No romantic entanglements, no shady business, but manages to balance her work and family duties like a pro.

Enter the ex-assassin John Reese (played by Jim Caviezel).

Some would claim that Reese is not chaotic at all and right they are, he is a total neat freak but he is still a chaotic part of Carters life. First, he is a suspect then an ally, a partner and a friend. Somewhat stupidly he ends up being a unfulfilled romantic connection. All while he tries to do good by doing a little bit bad.

Person of Interest season 1 trailer

Following along this path almost exactly is Fox’ show Minority Report (2015-)  based on the movie from 2002 with the same name.

Minority-Report-PosterMegan Good plays Detective Lara Vega, solving murders 10 years after the Precrime ended. She is a remarkable and very capable detective. Never needed any help doing her job before. She even manages to handle her ex being her boss.

Until Dash (Dashiell Parker).

A half shy, half-autistic precog living in a milk jar for six years played by Stark Sands, who sees the crimes before they happen but has no clue whom the victim is or the guilty party.

Dash desperately wants to help. In addition, hide from whoever is looking for him and the other precogs. To disrupt Vega’s life even more, his visions comes with an unsettling timing. And they spend equal time trying to cover up their workings from exes, police and powers to be. His criminal brother Arthur Watson (played by Nick Zano helps out, to keep the chaos rolling.

Minority Report season 1 trailer

Sleepyhollow-poster1780’s Ichabod Crane (by Tom Mison) stirs up trouble (first) in 2013 (and ongoing) for police Lt. Abbie Mills (Nichole Baherie) in FoxSleepy Hollow.

To be fair, she was already gifted/cursed as a Witness as a child but this has never been a problem in her adulthood. She does have a crazy and criminal sister who did not handle what had happened to them that well.

Like all the others, Mills is very capable, on her way to become FBI but a couple of resurrections, one headless horseman and an evil witchy wife later, her life is in shambles. I say she handles it all very well.

Sleepy Hollow season 1 trailer

Also worth mentioning, although only support cast member, is the lovely but disgraced State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) in StarzAsh vs Evil Dead (2015-) hit TV show.

We know Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the previous comedy horror movies to be cheesy, resourceful and unlucky. And Fisher needs to get to him before anything more evil happens. She is however not immune to his charms. With fatal consequences.

Ash vs Evil Dead season 1 trailer

Disruptive white men have not only been a black woman’s problem. White women have also had their share of uncontrollable white male partners.

FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (played by Anna Torv) in FoxFringe (2008-2013) collaborates with criminal Peter Bishop (by Joshua Jackson)  and his crazy father, Dr. Walter Bishop (by John Noble).

Fringe season 1 trailer

US Secret Service Agent Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) in Syfy’s Warehouse 13 (2009-2014) is a by-the-book agent. She has an eidetic memory and is all about details. A rising star that suddenly finds herself stuck with the recovering alcoholic and rule bender agent Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) with a knack for vibes.

Warehouse season 1 trailer

In the new CBS show Limitless (2015-) based on the movie Limitless (2011) Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter) has her share of trouble containing Brian Finch (Jake McDorman).

Limitless season 1 trailer

x-files-exclusiveFinally, but not forgetting Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). She iconized the trope in The X-files (originally aired 1993-2002, new mini-series in 2016), keeping control on Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was a full time job. It is also one of the most anticipated new season of a sci fi show EVER. And the first episode delievers. Especially when it comes to Mulder’s usual lift off and Scully carefully bringing him down and back to reality.

I am still amazed how fucked up their communication is, and yet we still watch it. Mulder never explains anything, but rambles on about THIS thing (never pronouncing what the specific this IS) being the most important bit about IT (?) and that they have to whistleblow it. Scully always shutting him down but never makes him actually explain it. She never asks why or what he is talking about. Either she is a Mulder mind reader or she does not care at all. Watch trailer for the new mini-series underneath.

Christine

 

 

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Homeland. Making a Home Run.

TV show Homeland (2011-) is interesting for many reasons.

Carrie Mathison (portrayed by Claire Danes) is a strong female lead. She is actually one of the most complex female characters I have seen on TV.

All while not being stereotyped as the sexy female skimpy outfit hooker agent (Yup, an older rant here).

That and the sensitive portrayal of Bipolar Disorder make Homeland a series to watch.

I know the show has been criticized for its stereotyping of Muslims (originally based on the Israeli series Hatufim/Prisoner of War  (on my to-watch list)), and for fear of exhausting the story. Both equally legitimate but not the focus of this rant.

Before watching it, I was afraid that the show was only a copy of 24, but what do I know? I have not seen 24. And probably never will.

I am glad I gave Homeland a chance.

I am impressed by the portrayal of Bipolar Disorder in the first season. Somebody knows what they are writing about!

It is off course simplified. It needs to be, to tell the story.
And the story is not about bipolar disorder, mental illness or awareness at all.

Claire Danes is perfect for this role. I have personally been a fan since My So-Called Life (1994-95) but feels she has made some weird choices during her career. Now, as Carrie, I feel she is right at home, playing on her strengths as an actress.

Her subtleties, wide range of emotions and expressions are executed perfectly. Carrie is intense and somewhat unpleasant.

Her strengths are also her weaknesses. I would actually go so far as to say that she is excellent at her job, not in spite of, but because she is Bipolar.

Claire makes her believable and watchable.

Carrie is pushy, confrontational and ambitious without becoming bitchy.

Her highs and lows intricately played out; from incoherent, maniacally chaotic to her dark and silent meltdown feels raw and real.

Carrie is flawed but never flat.

Christine

 

If you have questions about Bipolar Disorder or other mental health issues, please contact your national and/or local mental health organizations and clinics.

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How Many Crazy People Do You Need? A Box set.

Did somebody loose the key to the loony bin?

It seems like every show on TV these recent years consists of one or several crazy people. Usually solving things.

Some of them are known to us as Superheroes. As if that makes everything alright! Sorry, this rant is not about supes. Or is it?

I am not here to put labels, but as one who wants awareness, I am curious about how mental health issues are expressed or implied on mainstream TV-shows. What is this interest in the psychotic yet helpful?

Why is it almost always connected to behaving as a douchebag?
Does mental illness/high intelligence give a free pass to behave as a dick?

Is it just another bad boy (needs saving) trope, a fixation on the Eccentric, or just another tribute to the Genius?

Or are they in fact the new superheroes, their issues often described as talents and gifts in an almost supernatural sense. A common man hero, sort of. More common than the common man becoming a superhero, that is.

Or is it a poorly concealed, yet bogus pat on the shoulder to all fighters out there, living, enduring or barely holding on.

Cue: Heroes by Alesso ft. Tove Lo.

Some of the shows are following this trend head on. I have made a compilation rant of them. I might have missed some. I might have ignored some.

House M.D. (2004-2012)
Honestly, I have not seen enough of this show to say anything meaningful about it. But then again, there might not be any meaning to it at all. I have however seen enough to make highly astute guesses. Because lets be honest, every episode is the same one.

House is being an asshole but occasionally he shows a couple of seconds of remorse or goodwill. Enough to like him, or at least accept his bullshit. Not to forget; he saves life!

His superpower: He can medic-babble for 40 minutes.

Dexter (2006-2013)
I saw perhaps half of the first season back in 2006 so I am really just shooting blanks here.

As I remembered it, it was no confusion to the fact that Dexter is mental, but he was not an unsocial jerk. He just could not stop killing (bad) people. How people would sit through this for seven years is beyond me.

His superpower: a never ending supply of duct tape and plastic wrapping.

Monk (2002-2009)
Adrian Monk is the human personification of OCD, complete with 312 fears and phobias. The show is comedic in its form but portrayed with so much love you are compelled to see his beauty.

His superpower: Did I mention he has 312 fears? It is a miracle he gets out of bed in the morning!

Bones (2005-)
It is implied that forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan has Asperger’s.

I have only seen an episode here and there, but I get the impression that she comes of as a strong female lead in spite of her challenges. Flawed but lovable.

Bones superpower: When she points a finger out in the air, a three-dimensional graph or other medical image pops up, showing someone’s insides.

Homeland (2011-)
Carrie Mathison is another strong female lead on TV. I am immensely impressed by the portray of bipolar disorder in the first season of Homeland.

Carrie is very good at what she does, but her strengths are also her weaknesses. It deserves a better mention than just a paragraph in a compilation rant, so I am writing a whole post on her, but this is all I got for now.

Her superpower: A never-ending supply of highlight markers in different colors.

Perception (2012-2015)
This investigating duo consists of a flat Rachael Leigh Cook and a scrubby heterosexual Will  from Will&Grace, complete with flannels and a 3-day beard.

His mental health problems are first referred to as visions, incidents, then goes on to be called conditions, schizophrenic hallucinations and finally recognized as Paranoid Schizophrenia.

Not a good show. However, portraying the different phases of his illnesses is very good although oversimplified.

Superpower: His hallucinations are just as smart as him.

Elementary (2012-)
This show  tries to remake Sherlock (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) in a more modern version. By moving him to the US, giving him some AA advice and a female Watson. Not to forget, a female Moriarty. You know you are witnessing post-modern stuff when half the characters change their gender. It is however, worth watching because of the cast.

Sherlock’s superpower: Animal companion: Clyde the turtle.

The Following (2013-2015)
A change from the other shows, The Following does not have a psycho investigator. Ryan Hardy might suffer from different disorders he self-medicates with alcohol and self-sacrifice, but it is this shows antagonist Joe Carroll that is the crackpot. Although I believe his followers must be even crazier because this cult leader is as charismatic as a wall-to-wall carpet.

Why someone would follow this man, and why people would watch this, is still an enigma to me. Perhaps that is Carroll’s superpower.

The Blacklist (2013-)
Yet another crime/drama/mystery worth mentioning. Reddington is leading agents around in a maze, not sure when he will turn on them or not. Is he psychotic, desperate, fatherly or only out for revenge? Is he an intuitive genius or has he staged everything from the beginning?

Reddingtons superpower: No one beats him at party planning.

Scorpion (2014-)
If one genius is not lovable enough, why would you bring in some more? Now we have a whole band of them. Are they mental or just unpleasant? This is a relative new instalment of the “crazy and obnoxious helping the happy (?) untalented”. This show lost me just a couple of episodes in.

Superpower: Instant WiFi access.

The Bridge (2013-)
This one is on my to-watch-list. In fact, all of the versions are on it. You have the Swedish/Danish original Broen, the US version The Bridge at the border to Mexico, and the UK version The Tunnel between UK and France.

Sonya Cross (US) seems like a flawed and strong female protagonist. I have read somewhere that she is supposed to have Asperger’s but it is never explained during the show. Anyway, I am looking forward to checking this one out.

Hannibal (2013-2015)
This is also on my-to-watch-list, but is it yet another version of the crazy leading the blind?

It is based on the novel Red Dragon (Thomas Harris, 1981) about our favorite cannibal Hannibal Lecter. What is not to love?

Christine

If you have questions about mental health issues, please contact your national and/or local mental health organizations and clinics.

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Covert Affairs. Not So Covertly Discrimination Against Women.

My first reaction to Covert Affairs was this:

I have now finished the 1st season and let me be clear; I am horrified!

Annie Walker, a young sexy female CIA trainee is handpicked and fast-tracked suddenly finding herself Operative.

This could have been a funny twist on the sexy female agent trope. Perhaps that was what they were going for but let me tell you why and how they fail. Miserably.

Introduced as a pretty tomboy, Annie quickly evolves into Action Junkie Barbie.

When called in by a (male) CIA/military trainee officer, she awkwardly blabbers on admitting to sleeping with her taekwondo instructor. Which btw, is not against the rules. She has already checked.

In a couple of seconds, she is transformed into a geeky-girl-next-door type who knows how to google.

The CIA clears her after interviewing her with a series of questions about her sex life. We now know her beach relationship with ex Ben Mercer ended ugly, she is fluent in six languages and she likes to wear outrageous cleavages. It is a good thing her breast barely manages an A-cup or it would be boobies all over the place!

She comes off as a man-eater as we see her flirt with Conrad, a man she just met on the steps of her new CIA home. Who, in all honesty, is flirting with her.

Her awkwardness is yet again apparent when she tries to walk through security without her passkey. Switching her from sexy confident to silly and girly.

Here lays the secret to what I hoped this show would be like.

Already we have seen Annie as confident, silly, headstrong, naïve, determined, awkward, sexual, weak, smart, emotional and strong. Not completely one-dimensional.

It gives me hope.
However, there are signs I do not like.

Her commanding officer points out that she is the best driver of any women the CIA academy (?) ever have had. WTF?!

And, Conrad is goading her to make the no-passkey mistake.

The bureau needs Annie because she can pass as a hooker. Seemingly, as the only other woman in this department, Annie’s female boss gives her this assignment. As if that makes everything all right!

Her boss is another example of the sexist craftsmanship of the writers. She cannot trust her unfaithful husband, and continues to interrupt his business meetings throughout the entire season trying to shame him in front of others. Resulting in high bitch levels herself.

Auggie, a blind agent now acting as the geeky IT guy and obviously the romantic lead in this show, he cannot judge her by her looks. He has instead perfected the skill of listening to how other men talk to women to find out if they are sexy or not.

Back to Annie.

She flirts wherever she goes. It is her secret weapon but is seriously rattled when finding that her contact guy is an ugly middle-aged man, and she frowns at the ordinary looking man her sister sets her up with. Not giving it a chance in hell.

Instead of CIA mentoring her so she slowly gets better at what she does, everybody seems to be goading her and then laughs or yells at her for not doing her job well. Her ex being the only actual reason she is there.

She screams like a girl, cannot walk in those high-heeled Louboutins as if her life depended on it, and is manipulated by everyone around her.

At one point, her ex and her new loverboy bickers about how to best keep her safe, while she is there. Doing nothing.

Every episode ends with her being rescued by a man. She tries to fight but is defeated every fucking time.

In the second episode, just to be certain we get how womanly weak she is, she is equipped with a panic/rape alarm and pepper spray. Emphasizing her (gender) as a victim.

When Annie’s only female to look up to, her boss, gets the career opportunity of taking her husband’s job, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the CIA and do an amazing job at it.

In spite of all her confrontations with her husband, she turns the offer down willing to fight with him (instead of against) keeping their marriage true.

Is this actually an accurate portrait of a working woman in the patriarchy? Especially working in a male-oriented workplace?

Because when ex Mercer romantically asks Annie to change her ticket the next day, all I hear is, “Please sacrifice everything for me! As a man I cannot, but you are only a woman. You can.”

Christine

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The Last Ship. Fire In The Hole!

OMFG!
I do not know how or where to start this rant.

At first, The Last Ship looks cool.

A post- apocalyptic pandemic scenario and a US Navy guided missile destroyer.

Straight of I get a Battlestar Galactica feel. A hint of old school sci-fi, like with real sets and everything.

In addition, there is a present and an imminent danger.
Not in a far future. Furthermore, it is on our earth. No parallel worlds. No aliens.

Oh Gosh, I am getting my hopes up!

Not 12 minutes into the episode, the Russians attack.

Ah, I see.
A nostalgic nudge to 80’s and 90’s action movies with American number one favorite enemy Russia. I am cool with that.

From there on EVERYTHING about this show goes horribly wrong.

Half way through episode 2 I am getting increasingly uncomfortable as our heroes searches Guantanamo Bay for supplies.

Freed because of the virus, Al-Qaida prisoners rule this playground hell-bent on killing everyone although the virus is killing everybody anyway.

So not to be confused with our heroes, Al-Qaida is dressed in their standardized uniform complete with orange neckties, afghan turbans and beards.

It is as if they never left the Afghan mountains.
They are even accompanied by an exotic soundtrack.

Do the US and their military need a pat on the shoulder?
Here represented by the Navy. The finest of the whitest. Yeah, I am talking about their iconic white ceremonial uniform.

Is their reputation THAT tarnished?
‘Cause in my mouth this tastes awfully like propaganda.

Russia is the enemy throughout the season. Thank goodness, we have evolved though!

Our hero captain speaks Russian.

In addition to reading books.
About Russian military captains.

However, there is no Russia anymore. Only forces operating on their own authority according to what is left of the US Government holding out in a bunker underground, hanging on the US of A is still standing strong!

Although it is in shambles.
Just like Russia.

But in control.
Unlike Russia.

The ongoing threat by the Russians and the one from the Al-Qaida is only the beginning.

Meet El Toro. The drug lord type living it easy in the Nicaraguan jungle he calls his own.

He molests young girls, preferably right before they hit puberty. He is surrounded by jungle music with sounds of monkeys and bongo drums.

So to best get that jungle vibe.

Still not convinced this show is crap?

Every military person on board is understandably American. Therefore, we need an intelligent alibi.

Thankfully, the scientists guesting the destroyer are British. The man is however a traitor.

He does not speak much in the beginning. When he does, it is with the Russians. Therefore, you accept his stone cold nature without blinking while the female scientist runs around all emotional.

To top it off, he has red hair and bad acne scars across his face for goodness sake!

Of course, he is bad.

I mean British.

To complete this work of crap, the Asian-American engineering guy does not stop reading while eating and one of the two Afro-American guys you get to know, is the first to die. On an away mission of all things.

Christine

 

 

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