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

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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be regarded as a form of liberation from an image of the family that may have been good enough for the 1950’s but is no longer valid in the 1990’s” (737).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” and fitting her with a pair of trousers in lieu of a kitchen apron. Nowadays, most crime dramas are either gender balanced or even female dominated. As this shift has occurred, many new issues began to spawn. Having female lead characters in these types of dramas allow younger female viewers to see that females are capable of working in a usually male dominated workplace and hold positions of power and leadership. The shifting of power roles in crime dramas provide young female viewers with prominent role models, through unrealistic character portrayal by lead actresses, often undermining the realities of the motherhood. Many current crime dramas give younger female viewers female role models in professionally powerful positions. Studies have shown that law and criminal based television genre has had a tremendous influence on career choices in forensic science on young viewers (qtd. in O’Donnell “Sample Criticism” (216). An example of this popular trend is Law and Order: SVU who commonly casts ... ... middle of paper ... ...lture, it is imperative we understand the messaging that is permitted in the home. Works Cited Cantor, Paul A. “The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family.” Pop Perspectives: Readings to Critique Contemporary Culture. Ed. Laura Grey- Rosendale. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008.463-476. Print. Gerbner, George. “Society’s Storyteller: How TV Creates the Myth by Which We Live.” Common Culture 7th Edition. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 117-122. Jermyn, Deborah. “Women with a Mission: Lynda La Plante, DCI Jane Tennison and the Reconfiguration of TV Crime Drama.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 6.46 (2003): 46-63. Print. O’Donnell, Victoria. “Sample Criticism of a Television Program: ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.’” Television Criticism. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2007. 215-227. Print.

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