No Rumpled Female Detectives, Please
Stuck inside with this wave of Omicron, I’ve been watching a lot of old television, from Murder She Wrote to Columbo.
All that telly consumption illustrated that we have a long history of rumpled, hard-bitten male detectives from Peter Falk playing Columbo in his rumpled raincoat to Thomas Jane as Miller in the space soap opera/epic for our times The Expanse.
But have you noticed that most of our fictional female detectives seem to be very well groomed? They are somehow tracking down killers with sleek hair, shiny shoes and unchipped nails?
Think about fictional teen detective Nancy Drew, with her fashionable clothing and her sleek life. Think about lady detective of a certain age, Jessica Fletcher, who somehow is somehow perfectly turned out, while solving all those murders and writing alllllllll those bestsellers.
One notable exception to this run of perfectly turned out female detectives is the The Nicole Kidman film Destroyer (2018), directed by Karyn Kusama (of Jennifer’s Body, 2009.)
In Destroyer, detective Erin Bell is on a singleminded mission, with no time for outfit changes or finding a comb. Kidman was nominated for best actress at the Golden Globes for the film.
Let’s be honest, which of these portrayals of a detective is more realistic? Who has time to get their roots done when there’s a killer on the loose? Wouldn’t you be a literal sitting target for a murderer if you had your shoes off while waiting for your toes to dry?
When there’s a mystery to be solved, who has time for lipstick?