Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Susan Knabe


In 1997 HBO aired its first original drama series, Oz. In the years that have followed the network has positioned itself as vanguard in the television landscape, however, HBO drama series have remained a complicated, and often dangerous site for female characters. Moreover, with a few exceptions (Sex and the City, or True Blood for example), original HBO drama series remain focused on the network’s primary audience demographic: the predominantly male, relatively affluent consumers of quality television. This research explores the representation of female detectives within original HBO crime drama series, The Wire (2002--8) and Season Two of True Detective (2014 -), in order to examine how female officers, operate within the male-dominated world of HBO drama. Two characters, Shakima Greggs of The Wire and Antigone Bezzerides of Season Two of True Detective, were selected as case studies and subjected to feminist textual analysis. While these representations provide some recognition of the challenge facing women working in law enforcement, namely the need to balance gendered expectations against what it means to be “good police,” they also reinforce particular kinds of gendered narrative arcs and tropes. These findings help illustrate the limitations of the portrayal of female police, particularly within male-dominated genres and networks.