So Mate and I, in our ever ongoing quest to find decent TV we haven’t already watched–and our love of British Crime drama– have stumbled over Scott and Bailey, and it is a gem!
Of an age…
It stars Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones–both big British actresses that the US has been sorely cheated out of–as two female police detectives, one young and new to the force, and one pushing fifty with a couple of teenaged girls at home.
We watched all five seasons (maybe twenty episodes total–it IS a British show, remember!) and we loved every episode. Some of the the high points–and I’ll try not to give too many spoilers here, because there are some truly taut moments–come in the refreshing change of British expectations of police officers from American expectations. In a word frequently used in the BBC show, American police officers are “twats.” (There is a particularly criminal spin on this word–at least in this show. Criminals are “twats”– cops who fuck up are just fuckups.)
* After a horrific kidnapping a character is asked if she’s okay. Her response? “NO I’M BLOODY WELL NOT OKAY!” This wouldn’t have happened in an American show–not as a release of humor, not as a character trait–flawed or not. God, it was good to see a woman be able to vent her absolute horror without being thought less of.
* Rachel–the younger of the characters–makes so many HORRIFIC personal mistakes–and no. She is not often the victim of anything other than her self-destructive impulses. But the joy of the series is watching her grow from a complete train wreck in the first two seasons to a true leader in the end.
* And let’s talk character arc–both characters have them. Janet, the older woman, isn’t immune to personal mistakes–but they both actually learn from each other, and that’s sort of cool because it doesn’t happen often in American TV. (Some seasons of Supernatural showed us character growth–that was nice.)
* And let’s talk abortion. When one character comes up pregnant, it’s the first option suggested. There’s no shame in it, there’s no “Oh, but that would be WRONG!” there is only, “You’re single, your personal life is RIDICULOUS and you work a high pressure job with stupid hours.” Won’t tell you which way she went, but it did draw some stuff into focus. God, Americans suck about this issue.
* At one point as Rachel and another character all talking about how hard it is to be a woman in Detective Constable Syndicate (think “squad”) Janet was like, “Suck it up! Do you think those of us who are older had it any easier? And we’re going to retire–you need to be here and keep up all the work we’ve done!” Good point–and very well made–and not something often pointed out.
* After getting in trouble for drinking on the job, a secondary character is being interviewed about whether she was subject to discipline or not. The response? “We should have looked out for you better–we have these resources and we did not make them available to you and you were in need.” And again–America sucks in this matter, because if you’re in trouble in any way shape or form, you’re on your fucking own.
* And while we’re talking about a cop show–let’s talk about A. the lack of ACTUAL VIOLENCE. There wasn’t a chase in every episode. There wasn’t a gun fight. There wasn’t collateral damage. Most of the police work was A. ACTUAL DETECTING–not with special computer hacker skills, but with real nitpicking effort and a team approach, B. SKILLED INTERVIEWING. There was no “Good cop bad cop,” and every detainee was given full rights. The interviewers were just trained to be mild, kind, and smart. This idea that Americans have that if only cops were allowed to beat the shit out of suspects all our problems would be over is SO NOT PRESENT.
Anyway, it was a good show and we enjoyed it and we were both sorry it was over.
And I’ll leave you with this, from Squish:
“Mom, I need to read The Alchemist by Paulo Cuehlo– is it good?”
“My students who read it on their own really loved it.”
“So, uh, when does school start?”
She gives me this perfect arch of her eyebrow. (She’s been experimenting with makeup–her eyebrows are wickedly well prepared for arching.) “Mom, really. The odds of us actually walking into a classroom anytime soon…”
“Not, uhm, likely?”
And she gives me a sympathetic shake of the head.
And I have been put into my place by a condescending adolescent. Aint it always the way?