This week I took a reading break. I’m not sure why. I finished my TBR Challenge book Saturday night. I started another book Sunday, and I liked it, but I only read a few pages. The rest of the week, I just didn’t feel like reading. What did I do?
Well, I listened. I finished the audiobook of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. (I feel rather smug about this, but don’t ask me how much I understood. My thoughts about it are mostly personal and I’m not sure how much I want to say about me and money here. It’s kind of like when a romance makes you think about your own love and/or sex life and it’s better just to keep those TMI thoughts to yourself).
Mostly, I watched. I almost never watch TV anymore, but I do like to pick a show on Netflix to entertain me while I’m on the elliptical. Lately, that’s been Scott & Bailey, and I binge-watched all of Series 3 this week (that’s only 8 episodes).
I know some of you have already watched it, but if not, it’s a British police procedural centered on a pair of female detective constables. My husband said, “So like a British Cagney and Lacey,” and that’s not totally off–though it’s more of an ensemble piece than I remember Cagney & Lacey being.
What I loved about the show is the competent female characters: not just Janet and Rachel, but their boss, Gill Murray. The main pathologist, Chief Constable, and the other DCI who makes regular appearances are also women. It’s a female-centric show, but without making their gender a big workplace issue in the way Prime Suspect, much as I loved it, did for Helen Mirren’s character. The mysteries were engaging, the procedural part seemed plausible, and the workplace dynamics felt real. But what I mostly enjoyed was watching these driven, ambitious women who loved their work do a great job. (Even Rachel, the “fuck-up,” fucks up more in her personal life than at work, though she does make some big mistakes).
What I didn’t like as much were the increasingly melodramatic personal lives of these women (especially Rachel, but all three of them). This, I realized, is one reason I watch little TV these days. A lot of shows have a soapy element, or develop one to keep things interesting after many seasons, and that kind of emotional drama/big plot twist storytelling just doesn’t engage me as much as it used to. I watched plenty of TV in my younger days, and loved plenty of soapy shows. Now they just make me feel tired. I think the reason it worked for me here was that the seasons are so short–for a total of 24 episodes, I didn’t have time to get fed up with the drama.
And I hate the IMDB plot synopsis, which describes Janet Scott as “motherly.” Janet is a mother, but I didn’t see her as “motherly” at work. What she is is a damn good interviewer, because she’s smart and empathetic. She can often get witnesses and suspects to talk because of her skills. Don’t write that off as just “feminine intuition”–the people she works with don’t. I’d also describe Janet’s relationship with the younger, more emotionally volatile Rachel as mentor, not mother (a male character in this role would never be described as “fatherly”).
By Friday night, I was ready to read again, and I’m well into Stuart MacBride’s Dying Light, the second in his Logan McRae series (guess I’m still in a police procedural mood). But I’ll be honest: if series 4 of Scott & Bailey were available here, that’s what I’d be doing, melodrama and all.
Thanks to Twitter, I’ve also started my next show–The Fall, featuring another strong female cop played by my beloved Gillian Anderson. But it’s too dark and creepy for me to binge on. I have to work off the adrenaline on the elliptical while I watch. I’d ask for Netflix recs, but Canada doesn’t have half the shows the rest of you get.