In its third season, French police drama Engrenages, known as Spiral to English-speaking viewers, is another gritty police drama teeming with all the usual installations: murder, drugs, corruption, sex, violence, but with one kick-ass leading female character: police captain Laure Berthaud.
Newly instated as France’s newest pinup, Caroline Proust’s character Berthaud doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t wash her hair and wears the same clothes multiple days in a row, which by French standards makes her a total babe. Instead of just being the pretty-but-serious sidekick, Berthaud leads a team of male police officers and with her rough, no nonsense attitude her character has been hailed as a “feminist anti-hero.”
Known for pushing herself and her team to the limit and being devoted to her job, Berthaud calls the shots – which also applies to the romantic entanglements that she gets involved in. Proust says “They wanted a female character who, if she wants to sleep with a guy, says: ‘I want you,’ and if it’s finished just tells him it’s over. It’s quite a masculine attitude and it makes the character very original. She’s not a slut, she’s just a woman who obeys her desires in a very simple way. I find that very interesting.”