On television, a female character is more likely to be strangled or stabbed than shot. But is that a symptom of reality pervading art, or is it an example of television amping up the drama to get a bigger reaction?
TV is a dangerous place, what with the meth dealers, zombies, gangsters, vampires, and legions of cops and robbers on every network. Characters are practically looking for danger every time they step into a frame that doesn’t reside in the cozy confines of a sitcom. Hollywood.com recently released the stats of a study by Funeralwise.com, which named The Walking Dead the deadliest show on television, but the report also included an interesting statistic about the fate of women in televisual danger: “While guns were the most prevalent method for killing both genders, females died 70 percent of the time in other ways — by knife or blade, beating and strangulation, poisoning, vehicle crashes, etc.” The quick, clean, relatively emotionless method of murder by gun is a fate mostly saved for male TV characters, many of which occupy the zombie/henchman/lackie categories.
It’s a plot point we see frequently on shows like Law and Order: SVU and, more recently, Fox’s new serial killer drama The Following, which features numerous brutal and sexualized female killings. And the self-professed network for women, Lifetime, thrives on this brand of drama. According to the study, women are treated more brutally and more personally, dying at the very close hands of an attacker using a knife or their hands to rip away the last breaths of life.
But why? What is it about women that makes TV writers consistently doom them to deaths that are arguably more brutal and personal than the more distanced firearm dispatch?
The true life stats don’t exactly add up to the…