| These days I find myself watching more and more BBC America on TV. There are so many “reality” shows on American TV and these I just can’t stomach. Do I want to see people eating worms? Do I care which of six, simpering females, a man pretending to be a millionaire, marries? No. When I read the TV program listings for the coming week, that seems to be the type of offering dominating the airwaves.
I can’t believe very many men watch these programs. It’s a good thing that someone still airs sport events or the male audience would dry up.
The dramatic fare is mainly police shows, either fact or fiction. I won’t deny that some of these attract my attention. I’ve been reading mystery novels since childhood from Nancy Drew on up to Stephanie Plum. If anyone wants to write a sociological treatise on how the role of female detective heroines have changed, there could be no better choice than to study the progression of Nancy to Stephanie. They’ve come a long way and over the edge.
It would seem that today’s favorite fictional female scientist is a coroner, up to her eyelashes in forensics. Forensics is one of the most exciting scientific fields in modern times. There’s so much drama involved in the study, it’s become a natural subject for TV.
Not too many years ago it would have been unthinkable for a female medical student to express a desire to be a coroner. Even the title, “Medical Examiner” cannot gloss over the fact that the job involves cutting open dead bodies looking for evidence of cause of death. Women could not be imagined pulling on rubber gloves and messing around with blood and guts.
Boy, have times changed. I don’t know the statistics on how many female coroners there are practicing in the US and UK, but I’d like to find out because they are beginning to infiltrate and dominate TV programs in both countries.
I’ve never been particularly fond of post mortem parts in my mysteries. Usually, if written in books, and if written explicitly, I’ll jump over the proceedings. It isn’t that easy if the action takes place in a TV studio. It’s particularly difficult to avoid since the modern techniques of portraying action by computer. This puts you right at the blood-spattered elbow of the coroner.
A few months ago, at the start of the new season for a series featuring a young lady coroner, I almost fell off my chair diving for a pillow to put over my eyes. There was a close-up of a body, which had been cut open from neck to umbilical, with everything on either side of the cut, rolled back like wallpaper. Talk about special effects.
A British fictional program about forensic doctors and coroners involved with Scotland Yard has always been borderline when it came to depicting procedures. It has returned for a new season. They have either consulted American TV people to see how they’re making out with their new techniques and received a thumbs-up, or they have developed some new special effects of their own they want to use. No matter what the reason, they have jumped over the line and made a “You are There” type of show. Believe it or not, the Scots are going everyone one better. Ii watch a series about a young male coroner in Edinborough, and find myself looking away quite often. Also, the Scots have no qualms about full nudity shots of dead bodies, including female parts not seen anywhere else. If you’ve ever read a full disclosure biography of the Scottish hero, the poet, Robert burns, you’d know he’d be glued to the set.
So, you can ask, how can I object to seeing people eating worms? I guess I just like icky stuff as part of fiction and, if the cops and coroner shows were factual, I wouldn’t watch. Either that, or I’ve become as mindless and insensitive as everyone else.