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Reality or Fantasy?

As I’ve said before, I watch a lot of TV. I always have. I was a latch-key kid who learned to do homework in front of the TV. Back then, there weren’t too many kids’ shows playing in the afternoon, but that’s a different story for another day. Today I’m talking about how much reality we like in our fantasy.

When we read a book or watch a movie or TV, there is a certain level of suspension of disbelief we’re willing to go along with. That’s a fancy way of saying we’ll follow the characters if we can at least buy into a portion of what they’re doing. I think we all know that in general, cops don’t really solve murders in 43 minutes. CSI techs won’t work a crime scene with long, flowing hair hanging over the dead body. (That one really bugs me.) We’re willing to accept this, though, if the characters and/or plot are compelling enough.

A new show that I started watching this season is Prime Suspect. I never watched the British version. I tuned in because I like cop shows and Maria Bello stars in it. I knew I liked her as an actress, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what she’d been in. Turns out, she was in ER many, many years ago, so I’m sure that’s where I knew her from.

Anyway, I tuned in for the first episode. Bello plays Jane Timoney, a tough detective newly promoted to the homicide squad. The good ol’ boys mentality of the men in the squad is a bit overplayed and it annoyed me because although I believe there are still men out there who think that way, they were a little too over-the-top. It makes more sense in later episodes when we discover part of their dislike for Timoney is because they think she slept her way into the position. (She didn’t, but she did have an affair with someone in command.)

What made me fall in love with the show, though, was the reality. In that first episode, Timoney is chasing down a suspect and when they turn down an alley, the suspect stops and then charges at her. She gets her ass beat. It’s not that I think this was necessary, but there are already many strong (almost unbeatable) heroines out there. For instance, I also watch Rizzoli & Isles. Jane Rizzoli is also a tough detective, and although she’s been shot at by perpetrators and tortured by a serial killer, I can’t remember a time when a suspect just hauled off and punched her.

I found this bit of reality with Timoney refreshing. It was enough to get me to tune in for more episodes and now I watch it weekly. Unfortunately, it might be on the chopping block. Although it hasn’t been canceled, it has been replaced for mid-season.

Here’s a clip with Bello talking about her character. As you watch, you will see the scene from that first episode where the suspect beats her:

I know some people avoid certain kinds of books based on the profession of the characters. For example, some lawyers won’t read books with a hero or heroine who’s a lawyer because they can’t stand the inaccuracies. I have a pretty high tolerance for things, but occasionally I get pulled out of a story or movie.

I also know some people stick with reading historical romance or paranormal because it’s so far from their everyday reality, it’s easy to go along with it.

How about you? What is your breaking point in movies or books? How much reality do you want in your fantasy?

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About Shannyn Schroeder

Mom of 3, editor, and contemporary romance writer

8 responses »

  1. I like Prime Suspect, too. Reboots of beloved mystery series, whether it’s from the page to the screen or making the leap “across the pond,” often enrage fans of the original work.

    Maria Bello does a great job. I always look forward to seeing what Jane will do or say to the criminals each week. FWIW, Maria left TV guest spots for several years after ER to work in feature films. Check her page on IMDB.

    I have been a little disturbed at the recent SVU-esque nature of the cases, but then I also know that our culture accepts tough, ass-kickin’ women better if they’re defending children. I call it the Alien 2 effect. (“Get away from her, you bitch.”) 🙂

    Reply
    • I’ve heard quite a bit about the British fans not liking the new version. Since I never saw the original, I have nothing to compare it to, but I like the way Bello plays the part. In did check out her IMBD page. I had to scroll down to find the ER mention. I might’ve seen her in a couple of other things, but nothing else stood out for me. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  2. Count me as another fan of Prime Suspect. I had watched the British original and wasn’t enthusiastic when I heard a US remake was in the works, but the new PS is, indeed, new. Maria Bello’s Jane is very American and tackles her demons head-on.

    Rhonda, I hear you about the Alien 2 effect, and think the PS writers are smart to harness it. Right now, the show has to build an audience.

    Thanks for the clips and the post, Shannyn.

    Reply
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  4. This looks like a show I would definitely watch had I more time for television. I used to really be into cop shows, but now I find it difficult to find time for it all. I like the face that they made it realistic and she was vulnerable in that scene with the suspect.

    Reply
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