Of all the lady cops on TV, Debra Morgan from Dexter is my fave. She’s a dedicated cop with a very dirty mouth whose aggressive police work often intimidates male co-workers. But Deb (played by Jennifer Carpenter) is more than just another woman playing one of the guys.
without being asexual,
and she’s not afraid to speak her mind.
She may carry herself with bad-ass swagger, but Deb also wears her heart on her sleeve. She gets pissed, she gets sad, and she lets everyone know how she’s feeling. She’s in touch with her “femininity” insomuch as she shows emotion and gets giddy about guys, but that’s not really attributed to her being a woman. It’s just part of the character as a whole. And the fact that her aggression makes her more traditionally masculine than her seemingly mild-mannered brother, Dexter, isn’t presented as an oddity—it’s just the (ungendered) nature of the characters.
Dexter’s leads tend to transcend type, and when a character does seem to be fitting in with a gender stereotype you can usually be sure there’s twist is in store. They have complex motivations that take unexpected turns, which is probably why this unlikely story of a sympathetic psychopath and his relationships within the police force manages to resonate with viewers.
Season 3 of Dexter just ended, but this is a show I recommend checking out on DVD, and not just because it’s fun to hear Deb swear. Unlike most shows that come out of the suspense/horror/crime drama genres, Dexter does not feature excessive violence against women. Dexter’s an equal opportunity serial killer (this is explained in the first episode), and sexual/fetishized violence is not in the picture.
Dexter may not be a purposefully feminist show, and Deb may not be a purposefully feminist character. But it’s so refreshing to watch crime drama that’s scary and smart, and that doesn’t treat women like victims (more than men, at least). Plus, you gotta love a fabulously profane lady cop with heart.