Monday, January 14, 2013

Castle: From Kick-ass Cop to Sexy and Helpless

Last week the TV show Castle won the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Drama and Nathan Fillion won the award for Favorite Dramatic TV Actor for the title role.  Castle fans were delighted and there was the expected disappointed buzz that co-star Stana Katic did not win for Dramatic TV Actress.

I'm a Castle fan.  Love the show.  I've been watching since it first aired. But my disappointment the last couple years has been less about awards and more about what the show's writers/producers/etc. have done to the character Detective Kate Beckett.

In the beginning, Beckett was a kick-ass cop.  Smart and tough. Skilled in hand to hand combat. She solved cases and brought down bad guys.  Her hair style and wardrobe fit the image. She was beautiful and sexy and there was plenty of sexual tension between her and Castle but she was a cop first, sex symbol second.

 

 In season two, the image changed a bit.  Castle became a little less goofy and bumbling, and he and Beckett began working more as equals, although she was still the cop and he was the writer. By the end of season three, however, Beckett had changed completely.  Note the hair and wardrobe in the picture below.





If you're not a Castle viewer, I should explain that several story arcs over these seasons involved exposing Beckett's emotional vulnerabilities and developing the romantic feelings between her and Castle. But the writers also weakened Beckett role as a cop.  Her fellow detectives seem to be finding all the evidence and it was Castle who found the final clue and put things together. By season five,  Beckett also apparently forgot her hand to hand combat skills because in almost every episode she was overwhelmed, had her gun taken from her, was taken prisoner/hostage, and had to be rescued.  



In the current season, Castle and Beckett have given into their romantic feelings and have "gotten together". Naturally, a lot of the current story lines are centered on their relationship. But even while working the case of the week, there is almost nothing of the strong, kick-ass cop we saw in the first season. Kate Beckett has become little more than Castle's sexy and quasi helpless girlfriend.


Promo picture from this season.

As a Castle fan, I miss the old Beckett. I really liked her. The current one, not so much.  But as a writer, what bothers me is - why the change?  Did the show's writers feel that in order to strengthen Castle's character they had to weaken Beckett's? Did they think she needed to be softer or weaker to build the romance between them? Can't a woman be strong, intelligent, and kick-ass, and still be sexy, romantic, and have emotional vulnerabilities?

Can I get your opinions on this?  If you watch Castle, do you agree with my assessment of the changes in Kate Beckett?  Do you like the new Beckett or miss the old one? If  you're not a Castle viewer, what do you think about strong women characters in general, and about the questions I asked above.

Question of the Day:  Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?


18 comments:

Carol Kilgore said...

Oh, great post! I don't watch Castle anymore. I switched over to Hawaii Five-0 a few years ago for the scenery. Mostly the human scenery :) Does that make me a wicked wanton woman?

Oh. Back to Castle. One of the reasons I switched was because it was reverting to the strong man/weak woman formula. Totally unnecessary in the 21st Century.

Did I mention that I write novels with strong female leads? Maybe this is all connected :)

DL Hammons said...

Castle/Nathan Fillion fan from day one here! I have to say that I enjoy the laid-back Beckett a little more this year. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Big fan of the show!
Don't laugh, but I haven't watched any of this past season because I wait until the whole season is on NetFlix and then catch up at one time. Sorry, life is too chaotic for me to catch the show every single week. So, I'll let you know when it hits NetFlix!

Mason Canyon said...

Big Castle fan here. But I'm with you, I miss the old Beckett. Why can't they have a bit of both - some episodes let her be the sexy, romantic and others the kick-ass cop that puts everyone in their place. It's almost as if falling in love made her forget how to be a cop.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Todd said...

Brings to mind the awkward question as to why EVERY show on TV has to have a female character that is scantily clad at best. As your standard red-blooded male that is not a complaint so much as an observation but at times it makes me wonder how far we really have come ... sure TV is fantasy and the formula obviously works to capture audiences, but at times it can be distracting.

Especially when you come from public service and you know that cops do not wear heels and mini-skirts, medics do not unbutton their shirts down to there, and NOBODY sleeps with their partner and expects to keep the squad together. One cop show, the name escapes me, had the lead female character sleeping with just about the entire unit ... in real life nobody would respect her and she would get tagged with quite the unsavory reputation. I've seen it for real and those people are not picked for partners. Would a happily married cop want the squadroom mattress tester as his partner? I think not.

So much on TV is hyper-sexualized, just throw on Disney for an hour in the evening and watch the parade of teen girls acting like 25 year olds and dressed like call girls ... "yikes" comes to mind if our young ladies are fashioning themselves after sitcom "role models". So perhaps I digress, which I tend to do, but I think your Castle character has succumbed to the worlds's easiest ratings booster ... sex.

LD Masterson said...

Carol - I watch Hawaii Five-O, too. The wonders of DVR.

I also write stories with strong female leads, and enjoy reading them. That one of the reasons I really liked Beckett in the early seasons and why the change is so disappointing.

LD Masterson said...

DL - Do you mean you like her more this year than last or this year vs. the early ones?

LD Masterson said...

Alex - Assuming you've watched the seasons up to this past one, what are your thoughts on the changes in Beckett?

LD Masterson said...

Todd - But the original Beckett (the kick ass cop) WAS sexy. That's why Castle pulled strings to get to work with her. She was the inspiration for his new character - the super sexy Detecive Nikki Heat. So why did the writers feel they had to weaken the Beckett character? Can't guys handle strong AND sexy?

Maria Zannini said...

I don't watch Castle, though once I caught a few minutes of it and thought the dialog was clever.

As to why they're making Beckett soft...this might be off the wall but here goes.

I'm seeing a disturbing number of copycats a la '50 Shades' where women are submissive. Is it possible that sponsors have gotten wind of this and are exploiting this rising demographic?

I hope not, but that's what my Spidey sense is telling me.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I'm trying to remember when the whole 50 Shades thing started. They've been slowing weakening Beckett since the first season. I wonder if it's just that Nathan Fillion is so popular they decided to shift all the crime solving skills from Beckett to Castle and make her just his love interest.

Lydia Kang said...

Can't answer that question!

I've yet to watch this show, but it looks good. Thanks for the rec!

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Check it out sometime. It's fun.

LD Masterson said...

Mason - Just found your comments lurking in my spam folder. No idea why it was hiding there.

I don't even think the Castle writers need to split Beckett. If you go back and watch that first season, she was sexy enough to make Castle crazy with a well placed comment now and them, at the same time as she was taking down the bad guys. So what had to change?

Morgan said...

I haven't watched the latest episodes! I do love the series though... the writer humor is the BEST!

Stephen Tremp said...

Answer, they were liquored up on Sake and it was Funny Hat Day.

LD Masterson said...

Morgan - Do you agree that Beckett has been softened over the years?

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - I almost forgot about the QotD. You were the only one who commented on it. Not sure they were allowed Sake before a battle. Must have been funny hat day.