Danger Gal Friday: Olivia Dunham
This week’s Danger Gal Friday is FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham played by Anna Torv from Fox’s new Science Fiction TV show Fringe.
One aspect I have so far enjoyed about Fringe is that Dunham is our main protagonist. She’s the center of the action and not a sidekick. While Dunham has her problems (a horrible step-dad, falling in love with her off-limits partner), we also see how she excels. We get to see a mix and balance of the negative and positive forces in her life. This makes for a multi-dimensional character.
From a Gaze standpoint, I’ve also noticed that Dunham dresses in suits and simple t-shirts, we’re not seeing her body objectified by outfits an FBI agent just would not wear. Actually, it seems like Dunham’s black suit attire is meant to evoke a “Men In Black” vibe, or it could simply be that a woman with her background and profession likely would have a “uniform” similar to that. If the attire is due to the former, that’s a fun twist on a stereotype that I haven’t seen since Linda Fiorentino and Rosario Dawson in the Men In Black movies.
If her attire choices are due to the latter, that seems to fit what I would expect from Dunham’s character. Dunham is not in a “girly headspace,” and I just don’t see many of the typical feminine trappings appealing to her. Dunham’s one assent to femininity is her long hair. Again, this seems to fit the character the writers have created. It’s a compelling mix of the practical with the impractical.
In the series premiere, the plot did call for Dunham to strip down to her skivvies, but no special emphasis was placed on this. In a later episode we see Peter Bishop, played by Joshua Jackson, in his boxers somewhat gratuitously (Pacey, all grow’d up), so I feel there’s an even treatment so far across the genders of the main characters. I also like that they’ve teamed up the crazy old white mad scientist man with a Black female lab assistant whose character seems to be treated as much more than window dressing.
Dunham’s character is also active in that she’s not only investigating intellectually into cases, but we get to see her in physical foot and car chases. We get to see her pull and fire a gun. In that last episode “The Cure,” we see her leading a SWAT team intent on rescuing a woman undergoing a tortuous medical treatment. So far, I have overall found Fringe to be a fun hour of entertainment. Some of the science in the show seems way more out there than what I’d even call “fringe,” but I have so far been able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the show.