Bodyguard ‘airbrushing reality’ with powerful women portrayal

Entertainment
Keeley Hawes and Sandra Oh
Image caption Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve are both female leads

Victoria screenwriter Daisy Goodwin says TV dramas are “airbrushing reality” by having too many powerful female characters.

She refers to the recent successes of BBC dramas Bodyguard and Killing Eve, which both feature female leads.

Both saw women in prominent positions, as the Home Secretary in Bodyguard and as an MI5 agent in Killing Eve.

Goodwin told the BBC that these narratives pretended “sexism and racism in our institutions” had gone away.

Image caption Keeley Hawes played the Home Secretary Julia Montague

Bodyguard, which was the BBC’s most watched drama in 10 years, featured a number of women in high profile roles including Gina McKee as Anne Sampson, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism unit, and Pippa Haywood as Lorraine Craddock, head of the Met’s specialist protection branch.

This was alongside Keeley Hawes playing Home Secretary Julia Montague and Anjli Mohindra as suicide bomber Nadia Ali.

Killing Eve, written by Fleabag actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, saw two women go head-to-head – Jodie Comer as assassin Villanelle and Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, an MI5 agent with a female boss and assistant.

Image caption Bodyguard David Budd, played by Richard Madden, was outnumbered by women in the series

“There’s something slightly troubling about the fact that there’s lots of women in power but even the snipers [in Bodyguard] were women,” Goodwin told BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

“All the police officers were women and I just don’t believe that is necessarily an accurate representation of what goes on in the police at the moment.

“I think its unrealistic to pretend on television that women and men are treated equally and that’s not the case,” Goodwin added.

She said it was a “two way split” as “on one hand you want to promote positive role models for little girls but [on the other] let them know it’s not that easy and you might have to deal with a lot of negative remarks.”

Image copyright BBC/Sid Gentle Films/Jason Bell
Image caption Jodie Comer (top) plays assassin Villanelle, with Sandra Oh as Eve in Killing Eve

The ITV writer, who has also written a number of novels, said she thinks progress could be made with more dramas that “reflect reality and the Me Too debate”.

“I think it’s extraordinary that the Me Too scandal erupted a year ago and we have seen nothing on screen that really reflected it.

“It’s a much more live issue now than it has ever been. Would anyone make a drama like Prime Suspect now? Where you have a very credible, brilliant female character who is battling sexism within the police force?”

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-45803343

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