BBCA’s ‘Copper’: Welcome to 1865, When the Men Were Men, and the Women Were Prostitutes

by Debbie Stoller

Oh, BBC America. I expected more from you. I mean, you’re all British and everything, and as every dumb American knows, that means you’re more sophisticated than we are. Especially when it comes to your TV shows (hello Downton Abbey). 

But it looks like America may have rubbed off on the BBC in their new series for BBC America, Copper. “1865, New York. There are no city limits” reads the subway poster promoting the second season of this Gangs-of-NY style drama, while a whole bunch of men’s faces stare me down. Oh wait, there are two women’s faces there, too. They’re BOTH looking over their shoulder at me. And it’s obvious, from the way they’re kind of sneering at me, that they are both meant to be hookers. Never mind city limits–seems there are no women in  NY in 1865 either, except for a couple of prostitutes.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m a bit of a history buff myself and I do believe I speak the truth when I say that there were a lot of women living in New York City in 1865. In fact, believe it or not, they made up about half the entire population! Surely some of them worked as prostitutes. But there were plenty of others!

But maybe the writers of Copper (all men, natch) simply thought, since the show is set in gangster times, that the only women these men would ever interact with would be hookers. However, that’s not true, as there were, in fact, female members of NYC gangs in the 1800s. And not only that, but these men had wives, mothers, sisters, etc.

So, in conclusion: I love NYC history in the 1800s. I’m obsessed, even. But since BBCA’s Copper seems to have forgotten to write more women into their stories (except for those who can be all sexytime on screen), I will be forgetting to watch Copper

Image via 

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.