Agata Ostrowska watches crime drama The Fall and is impressed by the staunchly feminist approach of the show’s protagonist and her portrayal by Gillian Anderson
At first glance, The Fall is just another crime/thriller TV series. There’s the serial killer hunting his victims and the detective hunting the killer. It may not be a typical whodunit, as we know who’s doing it right from the outset, but other than that, what makes this show stand out in the crowd? Two words: Stella Gibson, the Senior Investigating Officer portrayed by the amazing Gillian Anderson.
Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stella Gibson comes to Belfast to review a murder case: a young woman was strangled in her own bed. Gibson soon notices similarities to another crime and realises there’s a serial killer on the loose. The murderer is Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, before 50 Shades of Grey), a grief counsellor and married man with two young children. He chooses his victims very carefully: they are always well-educated, professional brunettes in their early 30s. He stalks them and then attacks them in their homes, taking his time to strangle, wash and pose them in their beds. Meanwhile, Paul also starts flirting with a 15-year-old babysitter who has a crush on him. And… well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, as the show is excellent at building suspense.
And so we have a “man who hates women” (as the first part of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy was adequately titled, which was lost in translation into English) and a female detective trying to catch him. While a female protagonist is not anything new in a police TV show (cf. The Closer and The Killing, off the top of my head), Gibson is one of the few, if not the only feminist character who is not so exaggerated as to become a caricature. She is a confident and self-assured woman. Obviously, she has a successful career, but fortunately the writers do not rely on one of the two stereotypical alternatives for such characters: neither is she a man-hating, sloppy spinster, nor does she secretly dream only about finding a good husband.
The author would like to thank Zwierz Popkulturalny, whose article on The Fall served as an inspiration for this review.
Head and shoulders adaption showing Gillian Anderson as a formidable looking Stella Gibson looking directly at the camera. This is taken from the DVD cover for Series One and Two Complete. Shared under fair dealing.