Line Of Duty’s Kate Fleming Is Unique, But We’d Like A Few More
Warning! This article contains spoilers.
“Now stop pissing yourself off and piss off.”
Expertly delivered by Vicky McClure, this highly memorized line sums up Kate Fleming pretty well in Line of Duty: fearless, insanely good at her job, but also someone who would make the pub laugh.
She is the diamond of her trio with Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and Steve Arnott (Martin Compston). But unlike her colleagues, she has no questionable relations with Freemasonry and her judgment is not affected by her wang.
Kate is even ready to dab her boss in Series 3 – then pull him out of the mess he’s created when she realizes her heart is in the right place. In a world of nefarious corruption, where the lines between transgressor and policeman are blurred, Kate is the right arrow that AC12 desperately needs.
She’s also the type of character we need the most.
Created by Jed Mercurio, Kate follows in the footsteps of other women in crime dramas, says Melanie Williams, professor of film and television studies at the University of East Anglia, verifying DCI’s name Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) in Prime Suspect and DCU Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) in The Fall.
But unlike her predecessors, Kate is portrayed as part of a team and, most importantly, the best part of the team – a role rarely occupied by women on television.
“It’s not the all-male world of the crime and crime drama of the past, but it’s also not the only exceptional woman who has to fight on her own,” says Professor Williams. “It’s a much more mixed landscape.”
This landscape allows Kate to shine like a great copper. Not great female copper, just a great cop, who just happens to be a woman.
Unlike Mirren’s increasingly bitter Jane Tennison, she doesn’t face a challenge after a challenge related to her gender. And she’s not a style icon like Anderson’s deeply troubled Stella Gibson, not every man’s sexual fantasy she meets.
As Professor Williams sees it, “her ordinary character is quite an interesting break” for viewers accustomed to seeing women in crime dramas that are extremely damaged, neurotic, sexy, or all three. Kate is one of us and it’s never more evident than when you consider her wardrobe.
“A lot of my friends are obsessed with Kate’s terrible outfits,” Professor Williams laughs. “It’s not like the leather pants from Saga or the sweater from The Killing. These are polar, frumpy and normal collars and blazers. “
Stella Gibson wears silk blouses, pencil skirts, heels, and matching lingerie while trying to catch a serial killer. All with perfectly dried hair. In comparison, Kate wears “functional clothes to continue her work”.
She also happens to be a mother, but this is not repeated every five minutes. “You have a son you barely see,” mocks Thandiwe Newton’s chief inspector Roz Huntley in Series Four, in rare reference to Kate’s parenthood. In the sixth series, little Josh is barely recognized except in an occasional glimpse of Kate’s screensaver.
“It doesn’t put the ‘I’m a working mom’ struggle center stage, it’s really on the sidelines,” says Professor Williams. “It’s quite refreshing.”
This contrasts sharply with most portrayals of parenthood in the media, says Dr Rebecca Feasey of the University of Bath Spa, whose research focuses on the portrayal of gender and motherhood in women. culture.
“The contemporary media environment is saturated with romantic, idealized and indeed conservative images of selfless and content ‘good’ mothers who conform to the ideology of intensive mothering,” says Dr Feasey. Mothers on television are important, she adds, because they “have the power and opportunity to highlight culturally accepted family relationships and set mothering standards.”
In other words, Kate’s inability to get home before her son’s bedtime could normalize flawed motherhood and ease the pressure on working parents in real life, even a little. Seeing a family facility where the father is the primary caregiver is also surprisingly rare.
Kate’s parenting prowess may not win her mother of the year, but her hard work ultimately pays off when she is promoted before Steve.
She is one of a number of women in leadership roles, from DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) to DCI Roz Huntley (Thandiwe Newton), to Senior Counsel Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker), DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and this season’s ultimate antagonist, DS Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin).
“That slogan ‘if you can be it, you can see it’ is pretty powerful, I think here,” says Professor Williams. “When we see women in leadership positions, taking control of situations, it creates the possibility, in people’s imaginations, to understand how this can also happen beyond fictitious representations.
Of course, most of the female characters in the Line of Duty lineup are completely, utterly imperfect. But that’s also what makes them so brilliant.
The women of Line of Duty are complex. DS Carmichael – on paper, the ultimate in skill and professionalism – has a blood-boiling smugness. Meanwhile, Jo Davidson somehow gains our sympathy, despite her actions, when we learn that she has been coerced into a life of crime by her gangster family. And let’s not forget that Kate fucked her mate’s husband in season two.
“It helps make the characterization more rounded, rather than someone who is flawless in all areas of their life,” Professor Williams says of Kate’s extramarital affair. “You want to go beyond always emphasizing positive portrayals of women and there’s a really good lineup in Line of Duty.”
Famous, Jed Mercurio isn’t good at talking to women in real life – he made headlines in 2019 for calling a young TV reviewer ac ** t – but he’s really good at writing to women. And he’s aided by the brilliant Vicky McClure actor, whose CV included stints at Dorothy Perkins and a lounge chair shop before eventually landing the role of Lol in This Is England and then Kate in Line of Duty.
Often praised for being down-to-earth and outspoken, the actor – who still lives around the corner from his parents in Nottingham – is out of step when people draw comparisons between her and Kate.
“The goal for me as an actor is to make a character look as real as possible,” she said in a 2016 interview. “So if they’re like me in some ways or in the way they react to a situation … well, Happy Days. “
At the time of writing, we still don’t know what Kate’s fate is or if she will turn out to be H (surely not). We have also yet to hear if Line of Duty will get a seventh season.
What we do know is that this complex, flawed woman who loves currying, catching criminals, and calling everyone a ‘companion’ has raised the bar for women onscreen over the past decade. And for that we have to be grateful.