Can a show about murdering women actually be feminist?
The endless parade of serial-killer dramas on TV today raises an uncomfortable question: What does it mean that we as a society seem to find violence against women endlessly entertaining? "The Fall," a BBC2 series now streaming on Netflix, forces us to take a hard look at ourselves as viewers and what we like -- and makes the powerful point that killers who target women aren't as deep or interesting as other shows make them seem.
At first glance, the show might look like "Law & Order: SVU," or pretty much any murder series of the last decade. A man, a grief counselor, married with two adorable kids, cannot control his urges to hurt and control women. We don’t know much of his background, or his past crimes, but we come upon him in the beginning of a killing spree in which he stylizes the dead body. The police try to track him down with the help of a super-detective, one devoted solely to the job, so much so that she sleeps at work.
What makes this show uniquely feminist is the way it handles this seemingly familiar subject matter. It showcases the electric talent of a top-tier actor (Gillian Anderson) as a complex and brilliant detective solving gruesome crimes against women. It focuses on the explosive relationships between men and women, on misogyny, on the nature of violence, and it deeply cares about women, feminism and the ways in which men mistreat women, from petty judgments to torture, rape and murder.