October 1, 2013 by Drinks at The Dal
The newest addition to the Lost Girl gang, Tamsin is brash, callous, and ambiguous in her loyalties much like the hardboiled detectives of noir crime dramas. Writer/director and noir enthusiast Melanie Killingsworth joins us to talk about how Tamsin compares to noir detectives like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, including how Tamsin acts as a foil to other characters and her burgeoning redemption story arc. Melanie writes about television, including Lost Girl, at mehlsbells and at TVquila, and you can follow her on Twitter @mehlsbells.
Drink Special: Kamikaze
½ oz Lime juice
½ oz Triple sec
½ oz Vodka
Shake with ice and strain into shot glass.
Tamsin as a Noir Detective
Women in noir are traditionally either the femme fatale or an innocent, often dumb, character. Tamsin is a stereotypical noir detective, except that she is a woman.
- Moral ambiguity
- Dark Fae
- Doesn’t always do the right thing — sometimes doesn’t even try
- Tamsin’s storyline suggests a redemption arc might be in store for her in season four. Noir detectives also tend to have redemption storylines, though they don’t necessarily want or try to be redeemed.
- Introduced as an extremely abrasive character
- Unlikeable — of course people like Tamsin, but she’s prickly and often says and does things which make her hard to like.
- Very sexist/misogynistic
- Tamsin has some of these attitudes and turns some of them on herself. At the same time, she’s aware of and angry about the double standard.
- Noir detectives often refer to women by physical attributes (“a pair of getaway sticks”), which we also see Tamsin do (“guy rockin’ an eight pack”).
- Dark foil to existing characters
- Noir detectives are often a softer counterpart to the bad guys they chase — they might stab a guy in the back, but they didn’t start the fight.
- Tamsin is a darker foil to the existing characters. Like Kenzi, she is snarky, but Kenzi uses her wit to build relationships where Tamsin uses hers to tear people down. Both she and Dyson are “tough” characters, but Dyson is much more noble where Tamsin is nonchalant.
- Oft-referenced but unclear past
- Transient, no roots
- Highly functional alcoholic
- No family
- Though in a pre-season three interview with The Gate, the interviewer said Linda Hamilton was playing Tamsin’s mother and no one corrected him.
- Since Linda Hamilton will be appearing in season four, maybe we’ll learn that she is Tamsin’s mother? Or did that plot element get lost on the cutting room floor?
- Perfectly capable of physical violence, and she uses it to emasculate and disparage as much as in self defense
- Her power is doubt, which is pretty much the noir detective’s greatest weapon
- Paired with a partner she is friendly with on a superficial level, works together, has mutual respect/animosity
- Though her eventual (seeming) romantic attachment to Dyson may seem to nullify this, it also fits under “how Tamsin as a female noir detective plays with the noir trope”
- Letting a prisoner loose on a hunch
- Standing on a personal principle until it gets someone you love killed or harmed
- No concept of others’ personal space (specifically with moving into Lauren’s apartment)
- Thinly veiled defiance of the controlling mob boss, as when she refused to play the Morrigan’s game
- Obsession with comprehending the morality of others, though not always emulating it
Tamsin and Bo
- We were surprised that her and Bo’s relationship ended up being Tamsin’s main relationship on the show. In the beginning, it seemed like she might be a romantic interest for Dyson.
- Rather than seeing Tamsin and Bo as a potential romantic pairing, we tend to see Tamsin’s feelings toward Bo as longing and jealousy in the sense that she wants to be Bo and have what Bo has, meaning friends and relative autonomy.
Why is Tamsin so mean to Lauren in “Delinquents”?
- Annie thinks she might be trying to figure things out or to get a reaction.
- Kris thinks she’s acting out as a part of her own self-loathing. “I’m going to make you as mad at me as I am at myself.”
- Melanie thinks it’s a “male” thing to do, part of some greater scheme, and/or she might be trying to subvert the rune glass plot.
- Stephanie also thinks it might have to do with trying to get the rune glass to not work.
Resources about Noir
- The Maltese Falcon
Both the Dashiell Hammett book and the Humphrey Bogart film are classic, iconic noir, which typify most of the original noir style and tropes.
- The Simple Art of Murder – by Raymond Chandler
Talks about the art of the detective story (Chandler can typify the noir/hardboiled genre) and gives eight short stories which are a great “sampler pack.”
- In A Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity – by Frank Krunik
Examines main tropes of the hardboiled PI, their psychological roots, and their manifestations in film.
- More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts – by James Naremore
Talks about how noir style was incorporated into cinema. Includes introduction to neo-noir.
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