Now it’s all done and dusted (and without worrying about including the odd spoiler) I thought, given The Killing is a crime drama with a female protagonist, and it’s made in Denmark (I think here in the UK we all assume the Scandinavians are pretty liberal and enlightened when it comes to women’s rights) surely The Killing 2 should pass the Bechdel Test* with flying colours…
* The Bechdel Test
The test (popularised by Allison Bechdel and – according to the Wikipedia page – invented by Liz Wallace) is designed to gauge the active presence of female characters in Hollywood movies – it’s basically a gender bias test – most films feature men talking about important stuff to one another and that is so much the norm that we don’t even notice. A film passes the Bechdel test if ALL of the following criteria are met:
1) The film must have at least TWO, NAMED women in it, who
2) Who speak to each other
3) About something other than a man
So, extending this test to television programmes, does The Killing 2 bypass the general gender bias of most TV and films?
It’s a lot of TV hours to get through, but, episode by episode, this is how Forbrydelsen II shapes up:
Ruth Hedeby and Sarah Lund talk about… the suspect of the first murder, who happens to be a man. But, feeling generous, you could say they were discussing the case more broadly, so episode 1 gets an uncertain Bechdel thumbs up.
Vibeke and Sarah Lund talk about her mother’s upcoming wedding – not strictly just about the groom, so… another tentative thumbs up.
Although Sarah Lund and Louise Raben have a conversation all to themselves, they only talk about Jens, Louise’s husband, who happens to be a man. Big fat Family Fortunes-style raspberry for episode 3.
Phew! The woman in the combats wielding the chainsaw didn’t let us down. Sarah interviews Lisbeth Thomsen about the ‘incident’ in Afghanistan.
Episodes 5 & 6 Ah, well… let’s move swiftly on to…
It’s Hedeby and Lund again. This time, in a very short scene, Hedeby apologises and asks Sarah to come back to work on the case.
Episodes 8 & 9 Also not particularly Bechdel-friendly. Which only leaves…
And thankfully Ruth Hedeby comes to the rescue again, thanking Lund for her work on the investigation.
I realise this series centres around the Danish army and the subject matter doesn’t exactly lend itself to political/philosophical/intellectual conversations between any of the characters, let alone two women. But when I actually scoured the episodes for Bechdel Test-passing scenes, I was genuinely surprised by the lack of them. Half the episodes fail and the other half only just pass. For a show with a strong woman lead character it’s a tad disappointing.
Wonder how BBC 4’s latest Danish import, Borgen, will do…
- Women’s representation in movies: Not half good enough (leftfootforward.org)
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