How feminist TV has become the new normal

Liar, Dr. Foster and Cold Feet. Feminism is shaking up British television and we are totally on board.

Feminist television probably began with Girls in 2012. It was the first TV show that brought up body politics and slut shaming. It wasn’t perfect, the series barely touched on race for instance but it did have a domino effect. Cue the feminist icons we are now witnessing on British television.

I have never been a “television” person, whatever that means. I have always preferred Karenina to the Kardashians and going to bed early as opposed to staying up late to catch the latest TV hit. Yet, this fall I have found myself glued to the screen. I am a Sky catch-up aficionado. I am also not alone, each week over 14 million Brits stay up to follow Dr. Foster, Liar and Cold Feet. Each show is changing societal expectations, the cultural sphere and political conversation. Bravo British television, Bravo.

Dr. Foster focuses on the betrayed wife. Two years ago, the nation saw Dr. Gemma Foster reveal at that infamous dinner party, her husband’s affair with 22 –year-old Kate. Rather than being a feeble sad-case, Gemma carried on as an important GP and started getting smart.  Not only has a feminist theme been prevalent throughout its most recent series but the BBC drama has also tackled sexual assault. Wait for it, among teenagers.

Dr. Foster has avoided the poisonous myths and stereotypes regarding sexual assault. That only young girls, who wear ‘revealing’ clothes, are targeted. The perpetrator also happens to be Gemma’s son, Tom. Despite this, Gemma still made sure to eradicate any self-doubt that the victim, Isobel was experiencing, and remind her that “no” – no matter when it is uttered – always means no.

Only 344 out of every 1,000 cases of sexual assault are reported to authorities – which means that around two thirds of incidents will never be investigated. Dr. Foster will certainly help change pop culture’s narrative about sexual assault.

When Liar first broadcast, I, like most others started rooting for Andrew, the main protagonist in the show. The six-part series, focuses on Laura, a teacher who strikes up a romance with the father of one of her students—the wildly successful and charismatic Andrew. But their first date takes a dark turn when a shaken Laura wakes up the next morning, convinced that Andrew has raped her.

Laura’s dangerous, and determined quest to find truth and peace is highly important. Yet again, another feminist show comments on social attitudes around gender and crimes that are committed without any witnesses. 

Liar has given us an insight into the obstacles faced and the pain suffered by rape victims. “You wake up different,” Laura explains. “And suddenly you don’t know what’s important anymore.” Liar isn’t about Andrew Earlham any more but his victims and their efforts to bring him to justice and to come to terms with their own harrowing ordeals. This is their story now, not his. 

Cold Feet might no longer be an era-defining viewing, like it was in the Nineties but as this series reached its halfway point, a sex tape came up which shook the entire show. Tina, Adam’s girlfriend has to face a horrifying ordeal in a revenge porn storyline. When confronted by Adam, Tina spurts out the most feminist line all season “I have nothing to be humiliated about”. Both parties involved consented to it and it was taken in the privacy of her apartment. This year alone, we have seen a handful of celebrities have private footage hacked into. ITV clearly has its finger on the pulse, emphasising that it is never okay to leak private tapes of any kind and that the victim has nothing to ever be ashamed of. 

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Author: Scarlett Victoria Clark

Scarlett Victoria Clark is Editor-in-Chief of Scriptoeris and a multi-lingual journalist. She has also written for Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, when not writing she enjoys travelling and shopping for (more) heels.

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