Today, solid female roles have long been an accepted fact in film and television. Even a superhero universe like that of Marvel is on the verge of transferring female characters’ leading roles. But that wasn’t always the case, on the contrary. For a long time, the producers limited the role of women in films and TV series. The great English character actress Helen Mirren was also way ahead of her time in this respect. Exactly 30 years ago, she played the role of Jane Tennison in the British TV series Prime Suspect. As a female detective chief inspector, she created a role that continues to this day.
The focus of the series is the sober DCI Jane Tennison, played by Helen Mirren. In her job, she gets to know hostility and open sexism from her male colleagues. Tennison is far superior to her male pedants. While they try their best to force the only woman out of the team, Tennison convinces with calm logic and convincing investigative work. Only a few faithful respect her qualities in the course of the cases.
Against All Odds
Tennison had to fight for for her success, which leads to numerous job changes over the years. With all problems, the men cannot prevent their further career advancement. Tennison gets what she deserves and sometimes knows hardly any limits. She lives and acts like a man, which only makes her position on the team more difficult. What makes Prime Suspect so fascinating is the development of the series character over time. Jane Tennison is already 45 years old at the start. Helen Mirren shot the seven seasons, all of which consist of films, over 15 years.
In her last case, Jane Tennison is already 60 years old and must fight back against her forced retirement as best she can. Marked by alcohol and loneliness, she soars once again to top performance. Their departure from the series is also significant. While her colleagues and employees are already celebrating vigorously at the police station, she informs the victim’s parents that the investigation is over. When they have left their office, Tennison takes her coat, takes one last look at the party from a distance and leaves the building with her head held high.
Many experts consider her the mother of all feminist TV series. Observers can see the inspiration of the British woman in numerous figures. The best example of this was Kyra Sedgwick’s role as Brenda Leigh Johnson in The Closer series. The actress later stated that Helen Mirren was a role model. Her role as Jane Tennison paved the way for her series. She, too, is obsessed with her cases, tramples on the feelings of others, and goes her way. However, her vices were Americanized. While Tennison is not opposed to alcohol and enjoys one-night stands, Brenda Leigh Johnson only reaches for sweets. But while Leigh Jonson uses her femininity as a weapon, Jane Tennison sees it as a burden and wants to be judged solely based on her abilities. For Helen Mirren, the character of the female DCI became a prime role in which she was able to demonstrate her versatility perfectly.