sophinisba: Gwen looking sexy from Merlin season 2 promo pics (freya by cindergraphics)
Sophinisba Solis ([personal profile] sophinisba) wrote2013-07-25 09:12 am

The Fall: A frustrating viewing experience

Maybe two months ago B and I watched Top of the Lake, a six-episode series starring Elisabeth Moss (Peggy on Madmen) as a detective in a small town in New Zealand, on Netflix streaming. It was really good! Instead of having a case every episode it was all about trying to find one missing girl, and I know some people complained about pacing issues but we thought it was awesome.

So then B heard about another show, The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson as a tough detective in Belfast, and we thought yay, we would enjoy it the way we did Top of the Lake. It is about the same size, also following a single case (with some side stories), and sexism within the police force, and has a bunch of great actors and good production values and all that. In the first episode, besides GA we got to see John Lynch, who played Balinor on Merlin, and Laura Donnelly, who played Freya. Between that and the accents/setting I kept expecting to have Colin Morgan turn up as well. :) From the second episode on we also get Archie Panjabi (Kalinda on The Good Wife) and a bunch of the other people who are also great.

But after the first episode B said she couldn't take it (even though she's the big Gillian Anderson fan!) and I had to watch the rest by myself. Or you know, I could have not watched it, but I wanted to find out what happened! Turns out those five episodes were just the first season though, so nothing much got resolved in the episodes I watched.

Spoilers through the start of the second episode of The Fall

Okay, so halfway through the first episode the Laura Donnelly character comes home to find someone has been there and laid out her underwear and her vibrator on the bed. She calls the police but ends up sending them away because she's exhausted and has work to do and figures there's probably nothing they can do. Then the episode ends with the police coming back (the next night?) to check on her but not getting an answer when they knock on the door, and they leave a polite message on her phone WHILE THIS SERIAL KILLER IS STRANGLING HER TO DEATH and holding her down and gagging her while she struggles and whimpers.

So that was like the worst thing to watch ever! I mean not really but it was pretty bad! The thing is, this character very much resembles the Freya I like to read and write about in modern AUs, she is smart and nice and maybe hasn't had a lot of relationships but totally has an inner life and desires that maybe her friends don't guess at. And part of the reason I like to write about her is that in some ways she resembles me, like especially me a couple years ago. And another part of the reason I'm sort of obsessed with Freya is that she got shitted on by Merlin canon, got introduced and was lovely and sweet and had a traumatic past and got fridged at the end of her first episode in order for Merlin to have manpain followed by a bit of roughhousing with Arthur to be used in a thousand slash vids. So I want a million fanworks where she has desires and is awesome and SURVIVES and has lots of great sex.

So that was not what happened on this show, and it was frustrating.

Another thing that happened in the first episode was that Gillian Anderson's character walked up to this very fit younger male police officer she'd never seen before and more or less propositioned him. This was pretty awesome. Then at the start of the second episode (which I figured I needed to watch, even without B, even if just to find out if by some chance the Laura Donnelly character survived), he goes to her hotel room and they have sex, and it was very obviously about her getting pleasure by fucking this hot dude, which could have been a lot of fun to watch, but the director chose to intercut this with scenes of the serial killer washing and posing Laura Donnelly's dead body. D: D:

And this was pretty much how it went with this show: women being tough and professional and awesome! Women getting stalked and murdered! Camera lingering on handsome serial killer's face and naked women's bodies! 'Cause I guess the creators felt there were enough shows with awesome lady detectives already and they needed to do something to set this one apart, and what they chose was this second focus on the killer, which made for a lot of eroticization of violence against women that was the exact opposite of what I wanted to watch, juxtaposed with a lot of other things I did want to watch.

I will probably watch the second season anyway, because I'm a sucker like that.

I didn't really keep track but I'm pretty sure that every episode of The Fall passed the Bechdel Test, which I don't think was true of Top of the Lake. But damn Top of the Lake was a million times better and less exploitative, and it had closure, and it was about survival.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] samyazaz wrote a really lovely little Gwaine/Freya space AU for the apocalypse/fuck or die challenge at pornathon last week and I was super pleased to see that it took first place in its group: The Stars Look Very Different Today. I also really liked the Gwen/Merlin AMTDI that was #71 in the same challenge; does anyone know who wrote it? I tried looking in the results post but I was overcome by the collapsed comments.

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