I love a good TV procedural cop show, but this is also a genre of television that is lousy with over-used hacky scripting tropes. Too many shows tend to use the same shorthand clues to add some depth to a character without considering that these familiar points are often used in ways that are at best, lazy. And in many cases, these clues are just plain insulting.
Here are ten things about women you'd learn if you watched a lot of episodes of procedural television. Sadly, none of these are life lessons include "she's equal to a man" or "no one doubts her competence."
1) Any female police officer with a hunky male partner is going to be feeling pangs of attraction to him by episode four of season one. Of course, nothing will happen until they share an unexpected kiss at the end of season one. Or if he's married, at the end of season two following his wife's murder at the end of season one.
2) No matter how attractive a woman might be, she becomes instantly serious and nerdy if she is wearing glasses. Bonus points for wearing glasses while having her long hair put up in a bun.
3) A surprising number of coroners and medical chiefs are women of color. Even better, most of them aren't just good at their job. They also serve as the moral compass/unofficial Yoda of the entire police precinct.
4) Women can be the head of the local police precinct or even a high-ranking police official. They are hard-nosed and play it strictly by the book. Unless breaking the rules get results, then they shrug and forgive the stars of the show. Sadly, a high percentage of these women are killed during a precinct shootout in the second season cliffhanger.
5) If the woman is African-American and a cop, she is almost certainly a single mom. More experienced writers will also add in a healthy dose of guilt about leaving her child alone too much while she pursues a career.
6) If the woman is Hispanic and a cop, she is almost certainly an uber-competent bad ass with an almost scary persona. But if she stays on the show long enough, she'll grudgingly open up and reveal her tender side to a co-worker. For bonus points, she unexpectedly reveals her tough childhood growing up in a poor household with one or more abusive parents.
7) Almost all police psychologists are women. Usually very sexy women struggling to be taken seriously by the officers who can't see past their beauty. And an unexpectedly high number of them end up being kidnapped by a felon with a grudge against someone in the precinct.
8) Government statistics show just over half of male police officers on television are sexually promiscuous. Only 1.7% of female police officers on television engage in the same behavior and all of them are killed redeeming themselves by stopping a bullet meant for their male partner.
9) All female police officers have father issues, whether they admit it to themselves or not.
10) It is impossible for a woman to be happily married and also be a successful cop. If she is, her husband will either cheat on her or be killed at about the same time her character moves up from "recurring" to full-time cast member.