Gender and Diversity: Exploring New Entanglements in Prime Time Crime

Drew Humphries, Rutgers University - Camden

This study examines selected images of race, class, and gender in two news television crimes series on cable networks, Arts and Entertainment and Lifetime Television. Within the stylized format assoicated with crime dramas, the research question is this: how are actors "doing gender" while also "doing race and class" and what impact does this have on images of crime and violence, especially as they involve women. The study focuses on staged interactions, e.g. black female detective interacting with a white male suspect, to provide the rich description required for systematic assessment. Findings include: secondary networks far more inclusive in the selection of actors to play leading roles in crime dramas, the resulting diversity has enriched gender images, making them far more complex, and while the basic crime drama format remains unchanged, these shows open up new ways of thinking about crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006