cop shows for people who don't like cop shows: 1/?

Jun 13, 2013 21:46

Probably I should've counted tonight's post on The Wire as the first of these posts, but I didn't really think it through. STILL. TNT has (at least) three great cop shows for people who don't like cop shows. Or, at least, people (me) who do occasionally like cop shows but have certain serious concerns about the genre. Tonight's addressed concern will be THE RAMPANT LAWLESSNESS OF NARCISSISTIC VIGILANTES WITH BADGES, and the featured plucky little show swinging back at it is Major Crimes.

Granted, this issue is going to be a big one in any show featuring the US criminal justice system; however, some shows  are beyond my level of tolerance. The Closer was one such show. I really fucking hated The Closer. Allow me to illustrate how much I hated The Closer. This:

was not enough to soothe my grating frustration enough to watch even the episode in full. I had two massive problems with the show, both of which were as intensely philosophical as they are narrative. The first was the utter disregard for the Constitution. Now, a lot of the crap Brenda pulled would make Justice Scalia blush, but what's more horrifying is that a lot of her shit is currently considered permissible, and very much should not be.

The other is that what Brenda was doing was not only wildly offensive to me ethically, but it was also not particularly impressive. Finding ways to exploit the fears and insecurities of suspects (even innocent ones) in order to gain a quick confession is standard operating procedure. Brenda the special snowflake isn't even all that special, implying that her wildly unprofessional behavior was not tolerated for the sake of some non-existent genius, but that the outstanding quality for which the police department retained her was her lack of ethics. (Just to be clear, I'm not bagging on the characterization or Kyra Sedgwick's performance, both of which showed an impressive and consistent level of technical skill. Skill which went into buoying up the prison industrial complex, but skill nonetheless. A good character can be a shitty person we ought to hold in contempt.) This is a particular problem, because we are shockingly remiss about civics education in the US, and so people learn their expectations as to what their rights are and how (and even THAT) they should and may exercise those rights.

So, while I only reluctantly gave it a try for Mary McDonnell, I'm really pleased to say that Major Crimes not only avoids the problems of The Closer, but pointedly averts the tendencies of the genre which Brenda so exemplifies. Major Crimes is an ensemble show, with all of the characters getting at least an episode of generous time in the spotlight. In-universe, Sharon Raydor is a team player whose particular genius is in administration - that is to say, using everyone's talents to the best of their abilities, cautiously coordinating all communications with the press, keeping everyone's eye on the ball ("the ball" being not "the satisfaction of a confession from someone" but "a plea agreement with a defendant we have reason to believe is guilty").

By the way, if you're thinking to yourself "wow, what a philosophically appealing move away from cowboy exceptionalism and toward a politics of cooperation," you're probably the kind of person who's going to be pretty pleased at the series' gender politics. There's a refreshing lack of Smurfette Syndrome on Major Crimes. Raydor works closely and on-screen with several women from the DA's office, and the squad's newest member is Sharon's ambitious young protegee Sykes (who IIRC - though see above re: missing most of The Closer - is the first major WOC character in a franchise that's more racially diverse than most comparable series). MC's take on gender is another trend that is encouraging in-universe as well. Raydor's twitter bio (@Sharon_Raydor) identifies her as "Head of Major Crimes Division and Women Coordinator for the LAPD. Mother, Feminist, and Catholic."*

And you're probably the kind of person who's going to be moved and impressed by the storyline with Rusty. Without spoilering, Rusty is, quite simply, a kid who's had to survive a lot, and he's a great picture of a reasonably healthy teenager who's unlearning his adaptation to extremely unhealthy circumstances. (There's at least a few Judgy Janets on RhymesWithRopes dot org who like to go on about Rusty's "attitude." They will be first against the airlock when the revolution comes.) Rusty's ~stuff is shown with a great deal of dignity, and like many other aspects of Major Crimes, his story is a credible statement of faith that with awareness, patience and determination, good intentions, and a willingness to work with and respect each other, we can do some genuine, tangible good.

*I strongly suspect this is MM's influence, which would make me happy enough as a fan of hers, but on top of that it's so very refreshing to have reason to believe that a woman in the entertainment industry even has that kind of say in her own work, and that she chooses to use that pull to TAKE BACK THE F-WORD just makes my heart sing.

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law, crime boy i don't know, feminism, major crimes

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