Previously, I posted the images below as a game to see who could identify all the police officers from film and television in the photos. Female cops in television are depicted in a variety of ways, from sexy to hard-assed to downright goofy. Depending on the setting and genre, many shows depict the struggles women have to deal with to compete with men in the business. In light of the new cop drama starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant as police officers, let’s have a look at the roles identified by some of you in our game.
Danny: This is Doris. She’s our only policewoman.
Nicholas: She’s not a policewoman.
Danny: Yes, she is. I’ve seen her bra.
Nicholas: She’s a police officer. Being a woman has nothing to do with it.
Doris: Oh, I dunno. Comes in handy once in a while.
Doctor Who: All right, so Amy Pond (Karen Gillian) isn’t exactly a police officer, but when we first meet her (as an adult, that is) in the season premier of season 5, the Doctor certainly thinks she is. Using her current kiss-a-gram outfit to her advantage, she cuffs the Doctor to the radiator and demands answers. I think we can all agree, Amy Pond would make one frightening cop!
Torchwood: Our protagonist Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) starts the series as a police officer, making her a great candidate to quit her job and join Torchwood. With friends on the inside of the police department, she acts as a liaison between the secret society Torchwood and the Cardiff police force. Much of Gwen’s personal struggle is weighing her morals and what she knows is right from being a police officer against the much wider scale of what is right in the universe when you have an entire planet to defend.
Life on Mars: In a show where the main character has gone back in time from 2005 to 1972, women in the police force are a window into the decade’s sexism. Annie is on the show not only as the love interest for the protagonist but also to show how even the most educated (Annie with a degree in psychology) and bravest (she goes in undercover on more than one dangerous occassion) women were treated with less respect.
Men of the World: Becky (Eva Pope) is Kendle’s on-again-off-again girlfriend in the tv sitcom Men of the World (1994). Kendle is hopelessly in love with her, but he’s very good at screwing things up, partially because of his youthful awkwardness with woman and partially because of Kendle’s roommate, who’s not particularly fond of having to share the living space with her.
Ashes to Ashes: Another example sexism, this time from 1981 in London, where Sharon “Shaz” Granger (Monserrat Lombard) is a young officer working under the infamous DCI Gene Hunt. With Alex Drake as her immediate supervisor, Shaz looks up to her as a role model. Since Alex comes from 2007 where equal rights for women on the force are expected, Alex just comes off as an annoying feminist to the rest of the academy. But Shaz believes full heartedly that, even as a woman, she can do anything. Unfortunately, this leads her into some reckless acts that put her life in danger.
Going Postal: Angua (Ingrid Bosol Berdal) is a character in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book series. Several books have become TV-movies. The series satirizes sexism on the force, but Angua is sort of the exception because nobody wants to mess with her. Everyone’s pretty sure she’s a werewolf.
Hot Fuzz: Doris Thatcher (Olivia Colman), the only policewoman (or as Danny eventually refers to her, policewoman officer) on the force. Most of her lines tend to be crude or jokes about her being a woman.