"I have a Particular Set of Skills that Not Every Detective Possesses. For Instance, I Am a Woman." Socialist Superwomanhood and Policing the Nation in "Linda" (1984-89)




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Peer reviewed



Linda was a hit crime procedural of late-socialist Hungary, its success reverberating transnationally upon its circulation across the Eastern Bloc (Pavlova 2016). It follows the eponymous young police detective who in her episodic crime fighting adventures deploys her Taekwondo mastery against Hungary’s criminal underworld. Inspired by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies – themselves Westernisations of East Asian martial arts genres – series producer György Gát blended US-American, East Asian and Eastern European popular cultural influences. Linda’s resultant generic hybridity encapsulates late socialism’s politically-culturally transitional period: the episodic procedural / martial arts combination is channelled through Hungarian comedy traditions manifested in an ensemble cast recognisable from local cabaret and film/TV comedy, domesticating stock characters of American crime genres. But as detective heroine, Linda (Nóra Görbe) is marked by an overdetermined exceptionalism and nonconformity linked to her gender and its ambiguous corporeality. Androgynously slim and fit, sporting a mullet and little make-up, the threat of sexual violence follows her everywhere in her investigations, occasioning regular beatings-up of groups of men twice her size. For Imre (2016), she is a culmination of 1980s television’s socialist superwoman foreshadowing post-socialist postfeminism. I contextualise Linda in its temporal-territorial-ideological distance from Western/Anglophone feminist theorisations of transnational crime TV’s female detective, which examine the ‘deterritorialised’ feminisation of the genre’s ‘defective detective’ figure (Klinger 2018, Coulthard et al. 2018, Turnbull 2014). Avoiding a putatively emancipatory gesture of excavating nominally obscure media products/representations, I analyse Linda to demonstrate the female detective’s key-yet-conflicted role in mediating the police procedural’s relationship to gendered idea(l)s of national law enforcement as state-sanctioned policing of belonging. Drawing on Garland-Thomson’s (2011) concept of the misfit, I argue that extra/textual contexts like Linda’s femininity, physical prowess, and Görbe’s star narrative trouble the series’ articulation of this role, helping us nuance the ‘defective detective’ trope’s analysis in important ways.


open access article


Hungarian television, Feminism, Gender, Television history


Havas, J. (Forthcoming 2021) "I have a Particular Set of Skills that Not Every Detective Possesses. For Instance, I Am a Woman.” Socialist Superwomanhood and Policing the Nation in Linda (1984-89). MAI: Feminism and Popular Culture.


Research Institute