Crime drama, as a genre, is typically masculine dominated. The stereotypical setup of TV shows in the genre normally feature a male character as the lead detective. Women, as characters, are usually used as romantic interests – whether they appear in the form of the detective’s partner or outside of the work force. Those that are detectives are often presented as weak in comparison to their male counterpart. Considering the masculinity inherent in the genre itself, this isn’t surprising.
Shows that subvert this sexist representation, however few, include ABC’s Castle.
Castle, eponymous for its main character Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), throws a fresh spin on the traditional roles for male and female characters. Castle himself is not a detective, nor is he affiliated with law enforcement. He is a mystery writer. It is only when Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) questions him in relation to a homicide case that he begins assisting her with their investigation, which eventually becomes a regular partnership.
The dynamic is new. It is Beckett who holds the power between the two of them, rather than Castle. This authority is routinely displayed when he is forced to listen to her orders the same way female characters normally would do their powerful male partners in traditional crime dramas. As well as this, Beckett herself is not forced into masculine traits in order to fulfil this role. While she can hold herself in a fight and intimidates suspects, she refuses to reject her femininity.
When questioned about this in interviews, Katic has stated, “Women don’t have to look like the boys in order to play with the boys. We can look like we are and we can speak like we are and we can be who we are.” Beckett’s character, while sticking to NYPD rules, does dress in feminine ways. Even in power suits, there is no denying that she is not being restricted to behaving like a man. And why not, right? Who says a woman can’t wear heels and fight crime?
As well as all of this, she is not solely a romantic interest for Richard Castle. Though the two eventually marry, he is not her only focus and vice versa. In season four, we witness Beckett struggling with PTSD after being shot. The repercussions of this include putting her budding romance with Castle on hold in order to recover, even if it takes months and he moves on in that time. While a woman placing romance as her priority, it is refreshing to witness a woman who places herself – and her mental health – first, the same way countless male characters have.
Basically, let’s all love Kate Beckett until the end of time.