Refined Sugar


Don’t underestimate the significance of the junk food. I’m talking about the junk food that’s a recurrent motif in TNT’s hit drama The Closer-a fast-paced, woman-centered police procedural that may mollify Prime Suspect addicts while they’re waiting for Helen Mirren to fall back into line.

The brusque badge-toting heroine of The Closer, which has just kicked off its second season, has a failing many of us can identify with: she craves unhealthy edibles. A drop-dead gorgeous blonde like Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) may not be the kind of person you’d pigeonhole as a sugar-and-trans-fat addict, but she has been known to keep a desk drawer full of prepackaged yummies, and even to chomp on candy discovered at a crime scene. Admittedly, at the start of season 2 (which began airing in June) she has ostensibly kicked the habit, and is noshing on oranges, but don’t expect that resolution to last too long.

At first glance, Brenda’s gastronomic foible may seem just another one of the show’s formulaic elements. The Closer can be fun to watch-the chemistry between its actors often positively crackles-but it does trot out a slate of detective-story clichés. To begin with, there’s the fish-out-of-water premise: like Lord Peter Wimsey slumming with commoners in Dorothy L. Sayers’s novels, or Jackie Chan’s Detective Inspector Lee in the movie Rush Hour, the abrasive, Southern-born...

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About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.