Tag Article List: crime

Bad Girls: Agency, Revenge, and Redemption in Contemporary Drama

Courtney Watson
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
Roanoke, Virginia, United States


Cultural movements including #TimesUp and #MeToo have contributed momentum to the demand for and development of smart, justified female criminal characters in contemporary television drama. These women are representations of shifting power dynamics, and they possess agency as they channel their desires and fury into success, redemption, and revenge. Building on works including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, dramas produced since 2016—including The Handmaid’s Tale, Ozark, and Killing Eve—have featured the rise of women who use rule-breaking, rebellion, and crime to enact positive change. 

Keywords: #TimesUp, #MeToo, crime, television, drama, power, Margaret Atwood, revenge, Gone Girl, Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ozark, Killing Eve


Author Bio

Courtney Watson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Humanities & Social Sciences program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Virginia. Her scholarly interests include contemporary drama, modernist expatriates, and literary tourism. She is also a fiction writer, essayist, and travel writer. 


Suggested Citation

Watson, C. (2019). Bad Girls: Agency, revenge, and redemption in contemporary drama. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 6(2). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-2/bad-girls-agency-revenge-and-redemption-in-contemporary-drama/

Watson, Courtney. “Bad Girls: Agency, Revenge, and Redemption in Contemporary Drama.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy 2019, vol. 6, no. 2. Retreived from journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-2/bad-girls-agency-revenge-and-redemption-in-contemporary-drama/

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A Gendered Perspective on Policing Violence in Happy Valley and Fargo

T. Allen Culpepper
Tulsa Community College
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA


Portrayal of a police officer determined to fight crime and execute justice in a harsh, isolated environment has become a television and film subgenre, often featuring women facing gender-related challenges. The issues raised in Sally Wainwright’s British television series Happy Valley, can be made more accessible, particularly to American undergraduate students, via its commonalities with the Coen brothers film Fargo. In both, a tough but compassionate policewoman pursues the more sociopathic of a pair of criminals involved in a botched kidnapping attempt instigated by an inept businessman, taking on the case for personal and professional honor, and as a responsibility to family and community. Catherine in Happy Valley and Marge in Fargo juggle “masculine” and “feminine” roles as they care for family members while policing violence.  The women generally succeed in balancing their gender roles, whereas the men around them do not. But they sometimes assume the aggression associated with the male criminals they pursue. Happy Valley takes these issues deeper by giving Catherine a more intimate connection with one of the perpetrators and presenting the story more directly through a woman’s extra-patriarchal perspective, thus revealing the performative nature of gender roles and the limits of a patriarchal binary view of them. Looking at these issues in relation to Fargo paves the way for examination of their more complex and extensive treatment in Happy Valley.  

Keywords: television, women, gender, police officers, crime, northern England, film, violence, Happy Valley, detective, Fargo

Author Bio 

T. Allen Culpepper is an associate professor of English at Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, where he teaches literature, composition, and creative writing.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tulsa, with a primary specialization in 20th-century British literature. He has a longstanding interest in the interplay between literature and popular culture. He is also a poet, and he currently serves as faculty managing editor of the online literary and arts magazine Tulsa Review, and as a reader for Whale Road Review and Nimrod.

Reference Citation

Culpepper, T. A. (2018). A gendered perspective on policing violence in Happy Valley and Fargo. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 5(3). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v5-issue-3/a-gendered-perspective-on-policing-violence-in-happy-valley-and-fargo/

Culpepper, T. Allen. A Gendered Perspective on Policing Violence in Happy Valley and Fargo. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2018, vol 5, no. 3. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v5-issue-3/a-gendered-perspective-on-policing-violence-in-happy-valley-and-fargo/

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