Friday, October 28, 2011

Solving crimes and looking sultry

Much has been said and by many people about American society's double-standard for men and women.  Men tend to be valued by society for their competence, but women for their beauty.  Even in roles that require skill, women must also be attractive to be successful.

This is especially true in Hollywood.  In "Snark-Infested Waters," I discussed how female stars are scrutinized in ways that male stars are not.  Women on the red carpet at the Oscars and Emmys are subjected to catty remarks and literal grades from observers for the gowns they wear and the tresses they sport.  The men, meanwhile, pretty much all wear versions of the same tuxedo and escape the night snark-free.

Don't ask why everyone has a blazer but me.
CBS has made this dynamic evident again with the new series Unforgettable.  It is the story of a police detective (played by Poppy Montgomery) who has remarkable abilities to recall events and details that she sees.  This ability is key in helping her solve crimes.  Her methods may be unconventional, but so is her wardrobe.

Think of her as The Mentalist in a tank top.  Or Monk with curves.  Or sexy Psych.

In my opinion Unforgettable has a worn-out premise, but the viewing public seems to disagree.  If the idea of superhuman powers of observation has not been exhausted in the time since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle launched it with Sherlock Holmes, then perhaps it never will be.

Smart and smartly dressed.
The new show does raise the question, though, of why the detective's physique is as much on display as her prescience.  That is not the case with male versions, and a reliable source (my wife) has informed me that Simon Baker is pretty darned good looking -- yet his manly shoulders are covered with a blazer or suit in every episode.

I am not surprised that network executives took the detective genre down this path, but I hope it does not become the standard method of reviving a tired franchise.  We do not need Law and Order: SBU (Skimpy Bikini Unit).

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever heard comments along the lines of attractive female academics not being taken seriously? That's the only situation I can think of where looks might work in the opposite direction, but again appearance is still a factor. It's a strange world.