It’s not even an American fictional character, but I can’t help myself. In the British procedural “The Bay,” now on BritBox, the first season tells the ugly story of a police detective investigating the death of a teenage twin and the disappearance of his sister. Like so many TV shows today here and ‘across the pond,’ everybody portrayed is corrupt or otherwise deplorable, even the show’s protagonist. She is a single mother who is so obsessed with her career that her neglected children are falling into crime and ethics rot. The opening scene shows her having drunken sex in an alley outside a pub, being slammed into the wall by a scruffy local. Later she discovers that her spontaneous sex partner of the moment is the brutish married father of the missing twins, and a prime suspect in his disappearance.
Does she immediately recuse herself from the case, since her liaison took place the night of their disappearance and during the crucial hour when he claims he was with his “mates” and couldn’t have been involved in his children’s fate? No, she just counts on the fact that he’ll never tell, erases the CCTV tape that shows her in the bar, and proves that he wasn’t involved, at least in that crime. (Later she arrests him for another.)
The detective isn’t even the fictional character I’m furious with. That distinction goes to the twins’ mother, who flies into fury or hysteria at every development. Like the key figures in all procedurals, she withholds crucial information “she didn’t think was important,” constantly accuses the police of not doing enough because her kids haven’t been found ( post hoc ergo propter hoc, or consequentialism) and demands that they promise her future results beyond their control: “Promise me that you’ll find them!” Yet even these exhibitions didn’t make me want to strangle her.