Seriousness, Ordinariness, and ‘Actual Police Work’

British and American TV Crime Dramas True Detective, Suspects and Cuffs
  • Helen Piper
Part of the Palgrave European Film and Media Studies book series (PEFMS)


The single most ubiquitous narrative pretext for television drama is, almost certainly, that of murder, and no matter how rare in the social world, the ‘serial killer’ is a favoured antagonist. This chapter argues that this derives from a rhetorical investment in crime seriousness, as demonstrated by the first series of True Detective (2014–). Although prevalent, it is a model that may yet be challenged through an emphasis on ‘actual police work,’ and this essay will consider in contrast two British series which demonstrate alternative perspectives on crime and society: Suspects (2014–), which invests in actuality, and Cuffs (2015) which stakes a claim to ordinariness.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

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