The Closer: The Complete First Season (review)

Oh, you groan, not another cop show. But wow, The Closer is a whole new kind of eye-opener: it’s feminist like the show invented the concept of standing up for a woman as human: smart, skilled, flawed. Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominee Kyra Sedgwick (Secondhand Lions), who takes a plum role for a woman actor and turns it into the performance of a lifetime, is Brenda Johnson, Atlanta investigator gone Hollywood homicide, and she is one cool broad, a cop who’s ferocious and tender in equal measures, a tough and indisputably competent women who inspires rage and fear in men precisely because she’s so damn capable. It’s a situation that far more women will recognize than pop culture has acknowledged before, and watching this is — for me, as a 30-something woman in the 2000s — like suddenly understanding how validating it must have been for women in the 1970s to suddenly see new depictions of feminine responsiblity and adventure in, say, Mary Tyler Moore’s sitcom. As head of the LAPD’s new Priority Murder Squad, Brenda deals with high-profile killings involving models, movie stars, filmmakers, hookers, politicians, and all manner of money and privilege, but her biggest challenge is being accepted by her mostly male underlings. (They pretend their problem is with her outsider status, but it’s really her lack of external sex organs that pisses them off.) In these 13 episodes, she contends with facing a boss (the wonderful J.K. Simmons: Spider-Man 2) everyday with whom she had an affair that went sour, and dealing with her, um, issues with food and wine — Segwick, to her enormous credit, makes Brenda not a clichéd caricature of the neurotic woman but a hilarious and touching real human being who happens to be dealing with a ton of problems that woman will identify with. The only bonus features are a handful of deleted scenes.

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