Monday, 7 November 2011

The Killing | Miss Marple to Sarah Lund

The Killing is coming  back. Excited? You should be.

There's an item in the Telegraph which caught my eye, you can read it here via this link.

The writer makes some decent points, but I was taken with her female detective genesis. First comes Cagney and Lacey (80s US cop show), then comes Miss Marple.

Huh? Marple was created by Agatha Christie in the 1930s -- earlier? Yes she was lovingly brought to life on television after Cagney and Lacey had made their bow, gee shucking their way round Manhattan, or was it Brooklyn, but even so. Can we see a line of evolution through Cagney, Lacey and Jane Marple, then on to Jane Tennison, as the writer suggests?

Her point is to  place Sofie Grabol's character, Sarah Lund, as the latest in a long line of female detectives. She is a sort of Feminist Homo Sapien to Miss Marple's smart but downtrodden Australopithecus. Lund is different because in her the female detective has evolved to the point that she is no longer a woman, merely a detective, able to function in her job as well as a man.

The fact that Lund's battle is not with sexism is refreshing for TV drama and one of the reasons why the series struck a chord. But let's not get too carried away. It is hardly a surprise either. The workplace has changed since Helen Mirren played Tennison and since the mere presence of Cagney and Lacey in the detective office worried the wives of their male colleagues.

Detectives reflect the world they live in. Some more accurately than others. That Lund, a product of sexually liberated, equatable Denmark, appeals to Brits in 2011, suggests that perhaps a large slab of the population is over the 4 inch heel, dress to impress, X Factor nonsense we've been spoon fed for so long. But then: The Killing is BBC4, not ITV on a Sunday or a Saturday night. When they start wearing that jumper on The Only Way Is Essex, we'll know that something big has happened.

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