Ripper Street or "How the Daily Mail Fails at Feminism"



There seems to be a historical drama face-off going on between ITV and BBC.

I know everyone flails about Downton Abbey, and I do admit when I tried to watch it I did have 4 large dogs trying to jump on me at the same time (don't ask), but it didn't entice me to watch more than one episode. To me it has that certain.... nicely nicely British historical drama, can't offend the censors, fun for all the family.... feel to it. I'm probably wrong, and I am most definitely not one of those people that watches one episode and gives up (god forbid the kind of twat that watches an episode IN THE MIDDLE OF A SEASON, then moans about how they don't understand what's going on), so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and try to watch it again soon.

But unfortunately, I do find it difficult to believe that ITV can produce anything of worth. Chalk that down to the X Factor/Britain's No Talent generation.

So when I see that ITV is filling it's Sunday slot (previously belonging to Downton) with a new show, Mr Selfridge, I am hardly scrambling for the remote. In fact, I had little knowledge (due to never watching ITV) of it, and turned to BBC One instead, where I happened upon Ripper Street in all it's gory glory.


Oh, and the "bad guy" in the 2nd episode is Joe Gilgun, who I first saw in This Is England. To say he plays an immensely brilliant villain is an understatement.

After gulping down Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad in 2012, it's fairly safe to say that British TV is just nowhere near the level of it's American counterparts. Mainly due to budget. However, I'd say that Ripper Street is pretty damn close in terms of writing and attention to detail (although there are rarely any GRAND sets, the detail put into the small snippets you see is brilliant). This is possibly because it was created as a collaboration between BBC and BBC America.

Unfortunately, the theme of the show isn't anything new, and is very similar stylistically to Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films. Very gritty, a specific colour palette in terms of costumes, and a very similar soundtrack (that AMAZING broken Romanian-esque sound created by Hans Zimmer, who apparently "did hideous things to a piano" alongside banjos, violins and other unconventional instruments). It's the very tried and tested Victorian-era gritty-bits-of-East-London style, but if you like that kind of thing, it ticks all the boxes, and it does do it well.


However, what Ripper Street DOES do is deal with the time period shortly after Jack the Ripper went about his business, and the paranoia left behind, causing conflict with the police force. I won't go into the details of the characters (if you care enough to read this far, just watch it), but will say it's a "monster of the week" show, with some loose relationship plot development moving throughout. We actually accidentally watched half of the second episode without seeing the first, and while we didn't know the detail of each character, you can get the gist, which goes to show the storytelling is well-written.

What I do want to discuss is the role of women in Ripper Street. The Daily Mail, that seems to consistently objectify and degrade women on a regular fucking basis, claim that Ripper Street is an "Anti-Women Orgy of Gore"


The Daily Fail article complains about the "souring atmosphere and the way that violence is rather too lasciviously portrayed against a backdrop of fetishised period-perfect sets" and the "torture and murder of women, enthusiastically depicted... nothing to do with the Ripper, mind you." She goes on to complain that the first episode featured a "convoluted plotline about the first snuff movies ever made", and that "we see a great deal more of this act than is strictly necessary".

Mustn't it be lovely, to live in a world of puppy dogs and kittens, where the idea of sitting down on a Sunday night to watch a little bit of gory drama is viewed in the same titillating light as 50 Shits of Grey. Such a terrible shame when your little drool-fest is interrupted by the TYPE OF SHOCKING VIOLENCE THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO REAL WOMEN EVERY DAY. "It would be laughable if it wasn’t quite so nasty", apart from it's not, is it, because it has actually struck a nerve, that you aren't capable of dealing with in an intelligent manner.

She even goes on to complain about how the men are kitted out in exquisite tweed and plaid suits while the "women are generally naked - or just shuffle about in rags".


Nice rags.....?

The Daily Fail article may have had a point, if the series continued with female murders (it started out with one to highlight how all female murders were linked to Jack the Ripper shortly after his time), however the article fails to highlight that point. The second episode features a male victim and the introduction of a strong, mothering character (albeit just for one episode) - and the only "tart" actually ends up almost (well she beats the crap out of a few extras) kicking some arse in a full gown, corset and tiny wobbly hat.

Fuck your false feminism, Jan Moir. Calling out misogyny just because something is depicted in a violent way does not mean that Ripper Street's creators are anti-women.

Have you seen Ripper Street - if so, how did it make you feel? Also, would you suggest I give Mr Selfridge a go?