I just finished watching the first season of a show called Crossing Lines. I remember trying to watch it a year or so ago and noping out of it almost immediately when it opened with some scared woman running through the woods being chased by some killer and then being found naked the next day.
But this time I pushed through and watched it anyway. (I should’ve known…)
I love the premise of the show. An international cast of characters from all over Europe identifying and solving cross-border crimes. That’s exactly the kind of show I can really sink my teeth into. Not only was the team well mixed in terms of geography, they were well mixed in terms of gender, too. I think there were three female main characters and four male main characters on the team in the first episode.
This is a type of show I could watch for years if it were good. And parts of it really were.
SPOILER ALERT – STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW
By the end of the first season they’d killed off two of the main female characters. One in the first episode. And they gave that one just enough of a romantic potential to be motivation for one of the other characters. Sort of. Maybe. Not really.
(Everyone seems to have some intense backstory but the emotion really isn’t there except for a few limited scenes here or there and the rest of the time they seem to forget that they have this deep backstory.)
The other female character they just killed for no real good reason. Maybe contract negotiations. But I have to tell you television writer people: there are other ways to have a character leave a series than to kill them. Just sayin’.
So this series that started out with an interesting premise and seemed to have men and women in equal roles had, by the end of the first season, shown itself to be a show that includes female main characters as window dressing instead of legitimate central characters.
(Contrast this with Law & Order: SVU. I watched the first season recently and I don’t think they had a cliched “woman raped and murdered by a man” episode until at least midway through the first season. I want to say the first victim was a man and the second involved a woman as the killer. And Olivia holds her own as a detective, she’s not just there to check a box.)
What’s interesting is that maybe ten years ago I would’ve kept watching Crossing Lines. But maybe it was NCIS killing off at least three female lead characters (Kate, the Director, and Ziva) over the years. Or maybe it’s just heightened awareness of these issues through social media and discussions. But I have no patience anymore for shows that only kill their female main characters.
Life’s too short to support writers who see the world that way. (There are some fiction writers I’ve stopped reading for similar reasons.)
It’s too bad. I’d love to see more shows with an international flair…