CBS's new fall show, Unforgettable, is just that: unforgettable. It's quickly become one of my favorite TV shows this year. When I sit down to watch TV, I like to be entertained. When I'm not watching sarcastic comedies like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Up All Night, I want fast moving mystery or crime shows. (Although I've also recently become fascinated by AMC's The Walking Dead, a drama about zombies and a group of survivors trying to escape them). I loved Without A Trace, and hence I was automatically intrigued when I noticed that Poppy Montgomery (who was also in Without a Trace) was the lead in Unforgettable.
Despite my love of crime shows; I am always skeptical of them. Anita Sarkeesian over at Feminist Frequency sums it up pretty well:
"I usually can’t get over the glorification of the American Justice System. The cops and the prosecutors are usually depicted as 'good guys' who protect us from all the horrible, vile people in the world. This is such a conservative, skewed worldview that is perpetuated in the abundance of cop shows. These weekly crime shows also tend to have an extraordinary amount of violence against women, dead women, and evil murdering women as a way to maintain sensationalism."
This show most definitely reinforces a dualistic and limiting (and often a raced, classed, and gendered) worldview of "good" vs. "evil". Think about it: who's considered "good" and who's considered "evil"? At the same time, Unforgettable is an extremely powerful and positive show, especially because of Poppy, or, Carrie Wells. Carrie remembers everything, every detail about every day. Except for her sister's murder, which she painfully struggles to remember and "solve". As a police officer, her memory also helps her "solve" other murders.
Carrie's memory plays a prominent role in this show. Indeed, the plot is constructed around her memory. The show is subversive just in that it prioritizes a woman's memory, a form of knowledge that is not often considered "legitimate" in a world of "rational" men and positivist and post-positivist knowledge. Although Carrie's fascinating role may essentialize women; making white women's experiences stand in for ALL women's experiences, it also portrays Carrie in a complex, three-dimensional way. Poppy does not fall into, as Anita Sarkeesian states here, the "usual pit falls for 'strong women characters' by not playing the tough, badass, tortured, pessimistic, misanthropic woman."
All in all, there are problems with this show that are most definitely worth acknowledging. But that doesn't mean that it can't also be incredibly subversive, too. What do you think? Also, I want to note that there is NO good trailer for this show. Notice how it's her male "sidekick" that tells her she's good and that her memory is "legitimate"?