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Dysfunction, deviancy and sexual autonomy: the single female detective in primetime TV

Gilchrist, Kate ORCID: 0000-0003-1316-3493 (2022) Dysfunction, deviancy and sexual autonomy: the single female detective in primetime TV. Television & New Media, 23 (2). 184 - 201. ISSN 1552-8316

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1527476420969879


As the number of single women has grown within Anglo-American society, there has been a proliferation of discourses around single women within popular culture. At the same time, there has been a resurgence in female-centered media representations of detectives. This article asks what cultural work the convergence of the single woman with the unconventional figure of the detective performs, and what this means for contemporary feminine subjectivities, exploring how she is constructed in three primetime TV crime dramas: The Bridge, The Good Wife and Fargo. I argue that while the single female detective foregrounds discourses of professionalism, rationality, and sexual autonomy, she simultaneously reinscribes patriarchal discourses of heteronormative coupledom and normative femininity through her social dysfunction, vulnerability and deviance, rendering the single woman a threat to femininity. Yet, at times, her liminal positioning allows her to occupy a more transgressive feminine subjectivity and subversively trouble the gender binary.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 08:48
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 23:14

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