***WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS***
The first episode of American TV Show Dexter was broadcast in 2006. After eight electrifying seasons the series finally came to an end in 2013. Although the show was predominantly about Dexter Morgan: Miami Metro forensic ‘blood-spatter’ analyst and secret serial killer, he was not the only consistent, dominant, entertaining character. His step-sister and Miami Metro Homicide Officer, Debra Morgan (played by Jennifer Carpenter) was a force to be reckoned with.
Here are five reasons why Debra Morgan is a fictional feminist favourite:
1. She knows how to use a swear word (or six).
Debra is not concerned about the language she uses to express herself. She works in an intense, pressured environment investigating brutal murders on a daily basis: who wouldn’t need to shell out the odd ‘fuck-nugget’ or ‘Jesus-fucking-Christ-on-toast’ in those circumstances? Other characters call her out on her swearing (it’s worth noting that the male characters who excessively swear are never asked to correct themselves) but she dismisses it as ‘cop-mouth’.
Here is how she reacts to news that she’ll be an aunt:
Debra: (excitedly) A baby? A mother-fucking roly-poly, chubby cheeked shit machine? Are you kidding me?
Dexter: I’ve never heard it described in quite those words before, but yeah.
She’s creative, you can’t deny that!
2. She has the best comebacks to sexist remarks.
Debra is one of only a few women working at Miami Metro Homicide, so it’s no surprise that she is often the butt of a few sexist ‘jokes’. Fortunately, Debra has a smart mouth and superb mental reflexes, so these comments rarely get under her skin. Here are just a few examples of how she puts down those sexist M****r F*****s:
Debra: [To Dexter] I’d rather put out a camp-fire…with my face.
Debra: [To Vince Masuka] If you smell me again, I’ll punch you in the throat.
Dexter: I remember your first words: shoes. You were very girly once upon a time.
Debra: That’s funny. I always remember my first words as being, ‘Hurry the f— up.’
3. She is not afraid to question authority.
“You’re loud, you’re impulsive, and you constantly question authority”.
This is the opinion of Debra’s senior colleague Maria LaGuerta (who is also a fictional feminist favourite!). It may sound like an insult, but it’s actually something LaGuerta secretly admires about Debra. Season after season Debra follows her instinct, steps up and makes her voice heard, regardless of what her seniors think. She’s usually right too, which brings us to the next point…
4. She climbs the Miami Metro Homicide career ladder with ease and integrity
It would be easy to stereotype Debra Morgan as a ‘career woman’, but she’s much more than that. She excels through the department’s ranks, but that’s because she puts in the hours and solves the majority of the cases she is assigned. Plus; she’s been abducted, shot at, screwed over and attacked almost too many times to count, so it seems fair that her experience in the field results in several promotions. Her male co-workers are equally as qualified, but Debra’s tenacity and dedication are what land her the promotions; even if other characters insist she was only promoted to Lieutenant to rattle other authorities, or because of the on-going respect for her deceased father, Detective Harry Morgan.
5. She empathises with other women.
When her step-brother Dexter has what can only described as a ‘TOTAL F*****G IDIOT’ moment (he cheats on Rita, his current girlfriend, and leaves her for the awful and manipulative Lila) Debra is the first person to tell him that his actions are absolutely not okay. She defends Rita’s right to be upset, and when Dexter tries to criticise Debra’s romantic choices, she has the ultimate come-back:
“You are not allowed to talk about anyone I date as long as you’re seeing Little Miss ‘Pardon My Tits.”
However, it is the way in which Debra Morgan helps the character of Lumen in series 5 that shows just how committed she is to social justice. Lumen was held against her will, repeatedly raped by 5 different men and narrowly escaped being murdered thanks to Dexter. Lumen feels the only way she can move on with her life is to seek revenge on the men who hurt her, so with Dexter’s help, she kills her attackers one by one. Debra is unaware of Lumen’s identity and her link to Dexter, so when she catches them at the scene of their final kill (they are concealed by a curtain, so Debra never sees their faces), it looks like its game over.
However, Debra knows what Lumen has been through: the attackers filmed all of their thirteen victims and Debra had to repeatedly watch each disk for evidence purposes (Lumen’s disk had been previously destroyed by Dexter). This obviously took its toll on Debra, who decides that morally, Lumen’s killing of the rapists is justified, so she purposefully delays other officers arriving at the scene so that Lumen can make her get-away. If that’s not empathy and social justice, what is?
Debra Morgan may be morally grey, but her heart and head are in the right place, which is why she’s a fictional feminist favourite.
For more Debra Morgan gold, visit these websites: