Dexter: Serial Display of -isms

Last night I was watching an episode of Dexter (season 1. yes, I know I’m behind!). While I really am enjoying this show, the episode last night really bothered me. Well, there’s a lot about the show that bothers me. One example at a time, right?

In the episode I just watched, the Ice Truck Killer (a serial killer that kills prostitutes by draining their blood and cutting them into pieces) is still at large. Tony Tucci, the security guard the Ice Truck Killer forced to position a body on the ice rink and then kidnapped and amputated his hand and his foot. In this scene, Tucci is in the hospital room with Deb Morgan, a cop and sister to main character Dexter Morgan. Tucci mentions how no one will love him now that’s he’s broken. Deb smiles and says “Don’t be crazy. Someone will.” Of course, this means someone other than her, despite their easy flirtation and her admission that Tucci is a great guy. Later Deb brings her friend Shanda — who is a prostitute — in to meet Tucci to prove that women will want him. Oh, and she’s a Woman of Color, while Deb is white.

I take issue with the fact that Deb proves that Tucci is lovable by “gifting” him a prostitute. Is the intented message that Tucci will have to fulfill his desires with meaningless sex because he couldn’t possibly have a real relationship now that he is ‘broken’? Or is it that he can feel better about himself because there will always be a supply of nameless women to fulfill his needs? What about the fact that Deb, who is supposed to be a fully functional human being, feels that she is giving something great to Tucci by giving him this prostitute friend of hers — effectively pimping the girl to Tucci. Deb is complicit in the objectification of Shanda. Tucci’s stupid grin while Shanda takes her top off doesn’t help the situation either. Apparently, he also buys into the “i’ll be happy as long as I have a beautiful woman to have sex with” idea. Oh, and hey, there are no strings attached here because she’s a prostitute and so clearly beneath him. Patriarchy at its best.
Further, the color lines here need to be addressed. Shanda is an acceptable woman for Tucci to get involved with while Deb is clearly not. That is never an option. Which, alright is necessary for the plot to proceed as planned for the season. But why is Shanda a Woman of Color? Is the implication here that an acceptable pairing in a Black woman and a disabled man, but not a white woman and a disable man? I think there is some kind of hierarchical logic going on here that means that white women must end up with white men and vice versa. The only exception being if that white man is ‘broken.’ Quite frankly I was disgusted by this implication.
The rest of Dexter is no better. While I am sadly addicted to this show now, the show is horribly sexist. For example: in all of the episodes I’ve watched (all of season 1), not one of the criminals has been a woman. And not only that, but it is automatically assumed to be the work of a man when someone shows up dead. Which, ok, a part of me is glad that women are not considered to be as violent because that means that maybe women are better (I didn’t say this part of me was older than 6!), and a part of me realized that statistically this is good police work because more men commit crimes than women do. But it also means that on the show, the only women shown are victims of crimes, fragile girlfriends, prostitutes or hardnosed, career hungry women with no families — all tired stereotypes of women.
Anyway, I will continue to watch the show, but thought these things deserved airing. These are things that are not exclusive to Dexter, but show up on numerous shows on TV.

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One Response to Dexter: Serial Display of -isms

  1. Colleen says:

    Oooo, that's a really good point. Booo, Dexter, booo. In protest, I won't succumb and watch the show!

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