The Bletchley Circle is one of those television shows that just happens to contain every single thing you’ve ever loved strung into a dazzling plot line. It’s also one of those shows that no one has ever heard of, but everyone should watch. Do you like BBC’s Sherlock? 1950’s fashion? Mary Wollstonecraft? Watch The Bletchley Circle.
However the main story takes place nine years after this scene. No longer in need of code breakers, the four women are thrust back into everyday “ordinary” life in Great Britain where they are once again regarded as flimsy women, inferior to their husbands and bosses. No one takes them seriously. But in London, young women are going missing and being murdered, so in an act of female solidarity the four women reunite to find the criminal mastermind. With this act they form The Bletchley Circle.
When I first watched the premier with my friend, she cheerfully joked that all The Bletchley Circle needed were super hero capes and the picture would be perfect. Though I know she was joking, I disagree with her. The main characters of the show are very clearly heros, just as clearly as they are women. This is a crucial element to the show. They dress like women of their time. They wear household dresses, sweaters, and aprons. In one scene they even complain about their stockings ripping. But at the same time there is one incredibly symbolic scene where the women use bright lipstick to trace lines on a map to find the killer. The protagonists of The Bletchley Circle are housewives solving intensive crimes - and they never let you forget it.
Lucy is the victim of domestic violence, Millie is sexually harassed, and Susan is constantly plagued with the guilt she feels for not being a “good” mother and wife. Susan’s situation is perhaps the most under appreciated form of sexism, because it is something that people in today’s society still believe and do not consider a problem. Susan is not constantly centered around her children and husband; she pursues other passions, and therefore is viewed as a “bad woman". In one scene, her husband scolds her by saying, “You’re my wife, and a mother! That has to come first!” He is baffled and hurt that she should choose anything besides this role in her life, regardless of her intense genius and the fact that she is fighting to track down a serial killer. This showcases the strict roles women were, and sadly still are, forced into because of their gender.
The Bletchley Circle presently consists of just one season made up of three forty-five minute episodes. Naturally, I watched the entire season in one sitting. For such a short show, The Bletchley Circle has an extraordinary amount to offer. In the spring of this year we’ll get to see Susan, Millie, Lucy, and Jean back again in season two with even more crime fighting ladies from their old days breaking codes!
Chloe B. McAlpin is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College. Originally from Florida, Chloe enjoys crunchy orange leaves, used bookstores, and Simon & Garfunkel. If she had to pick a favorite animal it would be a Persian cat, and if she had to pick a favorite person it would be Virginia Woolf. Contact Chloe on her Twitter.
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