“Stalker,” CBS Latest Sadistic Show: Enough With Torturing Women for Shock Value

Author's Note: Beware. There’s Spoilers for Most of Stalker’s Currently Aired Episodes. Do Not Read If You Haven’t Seen Them. Better yet, Read and DON’T WATCH THAT AWFUL SHOW!

Los Angeles. Late at Night. Conventionally attractive girl in her car talking on the phone to her boyfriend about tacos for dinner. It could be the beginning of a horror movie or a Law & Order:SVU episode; either way, you know this girl isn’t getting any tacos.

Fair enough, we’re used to the helpless girl victim trope in horror movies and procedurals. But we’re watching CBS’s latest sadistic show, Stalker, so this shit is about to just get ridiculous.

The girl in question then gets a random call on her cell from a sinister voice who just says, “Glad you got home okay, Kate.” My friends, Kate suddenly doesn’t seem so glad to be home. Cue in the scary slasher film music as she gets out of the car and is chased by a creeper from a bad horror movie — complete with a black hoodie and a weird stocking mask with X’s on the eyes (how he sees, I don’t know. Maybe he’s Super Stalker? Is this a Super Villain Show? Is this why it Super Sucks?). He douses her in gasoline and poor Kate makes it to her car but left her keys outside, so Super Stalker makes sure to taunt her with them as he douses the rest of her car with gasoline as well. I told you guys this shit was getting ridiculous. He sets Kate’s car on fire and it explodes. It’s only been two minutes and 14 seconds into the pilot.

The show tries to trick us into thinking it’s a procedural like Law & Order: SVU by adding a voiceover narration by Lieutenant Beth Davis, who runs the Threat Assessment Unit (TAU) for the LAPD on the show, giving us statistics about stalking in America. This is, of course, juxtaposed with images of one the new detectives that will be working for her, Detective Larsen, stalking his former girlfriend and son. Ooh, what a twist!

See, here are the things I hate the most about Stalker: its point of view and the fact that it simply subjects us to violence for violence’s sake. The point of view of the victim is central in Investigation Discovery’s Stalked: Someone’s Watching; hosted by Dr. Michelle Ward who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuroscience/ Psychology and who has studied predatory criminals and the judicial system for over a decade and can actually offer insight into why some people can escalate to stalking (and who was actually stalked herself). And in L&O:SVU, at least you have Detective Olivia Benson fighting the good fight for the victims. But Stalker just seems to delight in torturing women for shock value and then sort of/kind of puts together some “explanation” or “twist” about the stalker’s identity or motivations.

Even their twists are woman hating tropes! In episode six, “Love Is A Battlefield” (ugh, gag me with a spoon!) they totally went with the Psycho Ex Trope. The poor man who we all thought was the evil stalker was actually being set up by his ex-wife, because she was just a crazy bitch who couldn’t let go. Because bitches be crazy, right?

In another episode, a teenage girl seems be stalked by a creepy older man — but no! Crazy bitch alert! It seems that poor man was also set up! (He was only taking pics of the teenager, nothing illegal, you guys ―Olivia Benson would have handed him his ass right there). It was the Crazy Lady Neighbor who was stalking the teenage girl’s little brother, because she’d previously killed her own son and now has kidnapped said teen girl’s brother. Because why? That’s right! Bitches. Be. Crazy. I swear, they don’t even get into any deeper explanations than that.

The rest of the episodes are just variations on slasher films scenarios, even if it’s not full-on murders all of the time.

What bothers me most is that all of the violence (or even a hint of possible violence) on this show is shot in a tantalizing way, always focused on the male gaze. The assaults on these women (because it’s almost always women) seem almost sexy and playful, since we’re seeing it from the point of view of the stalker. Why the fuck is this shit on network TV on a Wednesday night? It is triggering as all hell and completely disgusting.

It’s shit like this that makes other people more and more desensitized to the idea that women have no agency over their bodies, so that no one bats an eyelash when we’re harassed or assaulted. Shows like Stalker nourish rape culture.

I’m not alone in hating this show, The Huffington Post called it a show that hates women, and also exploitative, misogynist trash, and told everyone associated with it they should be ashamed of themselves.

I completely agree.

Burn this show. Burn this show to the ground.

Kat Pao
Kat Pao lives in South Florida with her Curmudgeon Love, Mark, their punk rock toddler, Francesca, their saintly dog, Bruce Campbell and their fatass dick of a cat, Bela Lugosi. She loves being a Pop Culture/TV Analyst and loves that writing about TV gives her yet another excuse to watch more of it. Did she mention she loves TV?
  • Dennis

    I haven’t watched the show, so I can’t fairly comment on its merits, but I have a couple of observations:
    1) On violence for violence’s sake – that’s a natural and eternal part of the human mind and experience, no matter what we tell ourselves about how much worse it is today. I wouldn’t say that all violence is equivalent either, but just saying that there will be violence for its own sake because we enjoy it.
    2) I wouldn’t take a tv network throwing crap at the wall, looking for something to stick, as too significant a commentary on our society. The show’s premise seems like a cheap network rip-off of Dexter (which I’ve also never watched), the whole “takes one to get one”. But it’s probably more difficult to ascribe virtues to a stalker.

    • http://katcanblog.wordpress.com/ Kat Pao

      There are plenty of shows that can and show violence without relying on torturing women merely for shock value.

    • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

      I’m not adverse to depictions of violence when they help develop a story-line, but violence for violence’s sake needs to stay where it belongs — in slasher films — not on prime-time television.

  • marti386

    “See, here are the things I hate the most about Stalker: its point of view and the fact that it simply subjects us to violence for violence’s sake”

    Yeah, but what did we expect? This IS by the morons who brought us Criminal Minds, another slasher porn piece of shit. I hate both these shows.

    • tawa-linn

      I have used those exact words to describe Criminal Minds and everyone just calls me a hater. I feel validated.

      • marti386

        I hereby validate you! You may rise! 😀