I’m not going to lie to you guys. I am incredibly shallow. I watch TV shows and movies for cute boys. The only reason I wanted to watch the BBC crime drama The Fall was because I found out Colin Morgan was going to be on it. In fact, I don’t even remember if I had ever heard of the show before learning that my favorite former wizard would be a recurring character in season 2. The season 2 finale aired two weeks ago, so it seemed like a perfect time to have a marathon. 11 hours later, the first two seasons consumed, I am angry at myself for waiting so long to tune in. The Fall is fantastic—a compelling drama featuring a flawed, fearless female character who takes misogyny and crushes it under the heel of her fabulously stylish shoe.
Unlike many other crime dramas, The Fall is told from two points of view: the killer and the detective hunting him. Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is a senior police officer from London who travels to Belfast to look into a stalled investigation and realizes that it was actually the work of a serial killer. That killer is Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), who stalks and kills dark-haired professionals before returning home to his wife and two children. With this dual perspective, you aren’t caught up in trying to figure out who-done-it, but rather you are captivated by the whys and the hows (as well as the “when is this guy going to be caught”).
Not to mention, the same arc being stretched out over multiple seasons gives depth to both the case and the characters. The idea, I suppose, is to find both killer and cop compelling, to be driven to understand both of them as individuals. I wasn’t at all curious about Paul Spector—I found him smug and creepy, and I spent much of his screentime hoping someone would show up and randomly punch him in the face. However, Stella Gibson is someone I would love to see more of, which brings me to the core reason of why everyone should binge-watch this show: The Fall isn’t afraid to be feminist.
Stella Gibson is a perfectly crafted individual. She is a high-ranking officer, and no doubt achieved that status by being excellent at her job. She is unapologetic about her sexuality, bringing men to her bed for what she calls “sweet nights” (taken from the matriarchal Mosuo culture in China). She is canonically not completely heterosexual. She is a fierce feminist, calling men—be they her boss or a serial killer—out on their problematic behavior. She is not only a character who defies convention simply by existing, she spells out what’s wrong with society’s views on women in terms that brook no argument.
But Stella is far from the only fabulous female character on The Fall. She is the main focus (or half the main focus), naturally, but the side characters are just as rich and interesting. This show is peppered with women who are vibrant and compelling and real. They are mothers and married and single and victims and accomplices. They don’t fall into one particular niche.
The Fall is all about women. After all, Paul Spector only kills women, and this show deals with a reality that all women face: men who are charming and handsome and yet misogynistic and dangerous, men who don’t take no for an answer, men who are controlling and abusive. Women are the victims, yes, but they are also the saviors. Occasionally, they are even their own saviors.
Also, if you’re shallow like me, Colin Morgan takes his shirt off. (No, seriously. He was only shirtless once during the entirety of Merlin, I feel like this is an important thing to point out.) And since The Fall takes place in Belfast, he gets to use his actual accent. Try not to get all fluttery in your belly when he says “explain”. I dare you.
*Some people may be triggered by watching this show, so proceed with caution. Paul Spector is sexually aggressive and manipulative and basically a raging creep. Everyone may not be able to handle the content.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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