Friday, July 31, 2015

Feature Friday: The Bletchley Circle

Hello everyone and welcome back to Feature Friday! I do want to announce that I have decided to make this a bi-weekly feature, rather than a weekly one. I want to make sure the recommendations I am making are things that I genuinely love and find worthy of featuring, rather than something I write about just to make a deadline. Cool? Cool. Moving on.

London, 1952. Susan is living a quiet life with her husband and two children. But she has a secret she is legally bound to keep from even her husband: during WWII she worked as a code breaker at Bletchley Park, the institution whose soul purpose was breaking the German Enigma Code. You can bind a woman to secrecy, but you can't take the code breaker out of her, so when a string of murders start occurring in London Anna cannot help but attempt to solve the puzzle. When it becomes clear that the police are not going to catch the culprit and that she cannot solve the crime on her own, she calls fellow former Bletchley code breakers Millie, Jean, and Lucy to help her catch the killer before another girl is taken.

Look me in the virtual eyes and tell me that is not the greatest premise for a detective show you have ever heard in your entire freaking life.

Aside from that absolutely flawless premise, the feminist history nerd inside me loves this show for highlighting an aspect of WWII that is often unknown and even intentionally erased: the role women played during the war. And I'm not talking about Rose the Riveter and all the woman who took up work in the factories; I'm talking about the women who were directly involved in the war in institutions such as Bletchley Park, scientists and mathematicians working in an effort to end the war. It is a common misconception that women were involved only as secretaries, which was admittedly the official report for decades after the war. Men and women alike were forced to sign contracts binding them to secrecy about their jobs during the war, and as a result many of the women involved insisted they had done mere clerical work. However, when the files were finally declassified and the truth about such projects became known the role women played went largely unannounced and unnoticed, so while the men of the time received their rightful praise, the women, save a few notable exceptions, continued to be excluded from the narrative or included only as extras, as secretaries in the background. As fantastic of a movie as The Imitation Game is, and it really is, it did further perpetuate the idea that aside from a few particularly exceptional women, the intellectual side of WWII was dominated men. The Bletchley Circle is finally, finally bringing attention to the fact that that is simply not true.

You were right. They're never going to find him.

The show is also really interesting simply because of the strategy the women use to solve the crimes. They are not your typical Sherlock Holmes characters who pick up on the tiniest of details and magically put everything together in a way no normal person would ever be capable of doing. Instead, these detectives use the same systematic analysis as they used during the war to identify patterns and connections between the murders that the police have failed to recognize. I really feel like it sets this show apart from other detective stories and makes it one worth watch amidst the ocean of other choices.

I have so far only watched the first season, but I cannot wait to sit down and binge my way through the second one on my next Netflix night, and I am hopeful that maybe just maybe there will be a third. Fair warning: the first season has only three, one hour long episodes, so it is nothing huge, but I think the pacing worked well and I don't think the brevity of the first story hinders it at all.

What do you all think? Seen it? Want to see it? No interest? Chat in the comments!

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