I wrote a few weeks ago about the brilliant Canadian series that airs on WGN in the US: DaVinci’s Inquest. My post focused on the fact that gender just isn’t an issue in this show. Characters are defined by their jobs, by what they do; rather than by the body they do it in.
That said, I suddenly realized the other day that I’d left out a very important element of the show: the missing prostitutes. Throughout the show’s many seasons, DaVinci and the police track at least two serial killers (I haven’t seen every season yet) who prey on prostitutes, knowing they do so with impunity:as criminals without police protection, these women are at the mercy of the street. From what I’ve seen, I believe at least fifty prostitutes have lost their lives by the end of the series to these two killers.
DaVinci is so bothered by these killings (and by junkie deaths) that he wants the city to create a “red light district” in which (as I understand it) prostitution (and drug use) would be legalized so that hookers would receive police protection, health services, etc. Naturally, there’s debate throughout the series over whether this is the right solution; but interestingly, I can’t recall one character arguing that prostitutes don’t deserve protection.
Except one or two of the hookers, when approached by DaVinci or cops who want to help them. They express the belief that no one cares what happens to them, so the concept isn’t completely ignored. It’s just not milked for drama and conflict. It’s kept offscreen with all the other obvious and unecessary stuff, like the fact that our characters probably clean their noses from time to time.
Sometimes making an issue a non-issue is the most powerful and positive message you can send in fiction.