This week’s Danger Gal Friday profile is a little bit lighter than usual as it highlights two great female characters from the USA Network’s crime comedy Psych: Police Chief Karen Vick and Junior Detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara portrayed by Kristin Nelson and Maggie Lawson, respectively.
If you haven’t seen it, Psych is about Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) crime consultant Shawn Spencer, whose “heightened observational skills” and detective instincts allow him to dupe people into believing that he is psychic. Psych also stars Dulé Hill “as Shawn’s best friend, straight man, and reluctant partner Burton ‘Gus’ Guster, as well as Corbin Bernsen as Shawn’s captious father, Henry.” (Via Wikipedia)
It’s lighthearted fare that makes me laugh on a regular basis. The show’s female characters are just as well developed as any of the male characters, and the jokes don’t ever rely on those female characters’ sexual appeal. While Junior Detective Jules O’Hara often gets stuck with some grunt work, it’s clear that the treatment is due to her being a newbie and not due to being female. Police Chief Karen Vick is respected by all of those reporting to her (except possibly Lassiter at first, but his problem is not with her gender) and the subject of her being a woman in such a position has never been an issue.
In fact, the episode “There Might Be Blood” featured Vick in a competition with her Coast Guard Commander sister over who had jurisdiction over a crime. While Vick is suspicious of Shawn Spencer’s “psychic abilities,” she is not above using him as tool to solve difficult cases.
In season one, Vick went into labor on her way to non-lethal weapons training and gave birth to a daughter. Actress Kristin Nelson was pregnant at the time the series pilot was shot and the pregnancy was worked into the storyline. So, Vick is a portrayal of a working mother in a high power position, but we don’t see her dealing with some of the stereotypical issues surround working mothers.
Junior Detective Juliet O’Hara is a newbie, and is described as:
a recently-transferred junior detective from Miami Beach, replacing Lucinda Barry as Head Detective Carlton Lassiter’s partner. She was raised in a family of brothers and is shown to be close with both her parents and her siblings. Although she is initially frustrated by her coworkers not taking her seriously enough due to her relatively young age, as the series progresses she is given more responsibility, being left in charge in the absence of Lassiter and Interim Chief Karen Vick and getting her first undercover assignment. She has grown more assertive with her partner, and actors Maggie Lawson and Timothy Omundson (who plays Lassiter) both suggest that a mutual respect has developed between their characters