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Guest Post: The Strong Women of Copper

Television
by Heather McLendon
August 15, 2012 3:04 PM
2 Comments
  • |

BBC America is premiering its first original series Copper this week. The story follows Kevin Corcoran, an Irish-American boxer-turned-cop (played by Tom Weston-Jones) who returns to New York from the Civil War. His wife has vanished; his daughter is dead. Kevin sets out to discover what happened to his family as he patrols the sketchy Five Points neighborhood. And he receives a little help from two wartime buddies. Both men.

So far, a very male-heavy show. And then BBC America releases this video:

“The Strong Women of Copper.” I like the sound of that. The video itself is rather compelling–I certainly want to know more about Elizabeth Haverford (Anastasia Griffith) and Eva Heissen (Franka Potente) and their roles in the show.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this before: a trailer that highlights the show’s female characters. And not only that, but a trailer that emphasizes their strength, toughness and unconventionality.

There is certainly a lot of conversation right now about women and media, especially in the blogosphere and social media. With half your potential audience being female, a show can quickly receive a lot of negative press if it ignores or grossly stereotypes women. Playing up your female characters is a savvy move.

But is it too much of a neon sign above the characters heads? Mad Men didn’t offer a promotional video that touted its female characters as strong and complex. The audience is trusted enough to figure that out themselves. While some may consider the “Strong Women” video to be insulting or purely a marketing move, I think it’s pretty damn awesome that Copper is at least trying to support–and promote–its female characters. Sure it’s a trifle overt, but considering our current cultural climate, going over-the-top is better than complete dismissal.

The true test will occur when the show actually airs. BBC America claims that Copper‘s “powerful females [are] at the heart of this compelling new original series.” Let’s see if that results in equal screen time for Elizabeth, Eva, and all the other women in the show.

Copper premieres on BBC America on August 19 at 9pm.

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Heather McLendon is a writer and social media specialist in Portland, Oregon who ruminates about television, media, feminism, and pop culture at her website.

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2 Comments

  • Em | August 30, 2012 7:00 PMReply

    Only two episodes into the season, but so far Copper seems to going off pretty strong, especially where the female characters of the show are concerned. I also appreciate the way they handle the racial tensions/conflict that was common even in New York at that time. Can't wait for episode three this Sunday.

  • ew | August 15, 2012 5:01 PMReply

    I've only ever watched season 1 of Mad Men, but was so turned off by the women in the show (and the show's writing itself) that I found it absolutely impossible to keep watching. Bechdel test? No thank you, and it sure doesn't stand up to the strength of characters played by Anastasia Griffith (Damages) or Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) among numerous other projects on both their parts. The BBC has always done women better than America does. If this is anything like Mad Men, you can count on me skipping it; however, if it lives up to the complexity of characters we see in shows like Luther, Bad Girls, Downton Abbey, and Lip Service - then I'll definitely be tuning in.

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