Danni or Layla?

Left: Shelley Conn as Danni Prendi-ville;

Right: Jodhi May as Layla



Source: Sky TV

In my guise as attenuated feminist, I have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand, we definitely have two clearly defined, independent female characters. On the other, there are plenty of stereotypical ones, as well: the female psychiatrist in episode 1, and Porter’s wife, Diane. On the one hand, we have a daughter, Lexi, who feels able to speak directly to her father; on the other hand, Porter’s “sidekick of the week” (who coined that term — I’d like to link to give you credit, whoever you are! — I just can’t find it again) has always been a man, except during the week it was a woman who was missing one of her hands and had to be rescued.

So, writers, pay heed: in a potential second series, I want to see a strong female character out there in the field with Porter who Porter takes seriously and who he doesn’t just try to get into the sack. (I’d say bed, but seems like beds are few and far between in the field so far.) She could even save his life. That would be great. Tyvm.

What I am afraid is going to happen: Porter stays involved with Danni as the prettier, more compliant female, while Layla is promoted to take Collinson’s position and she and Porter snipe at each for six more episodes.

My dream, as a smart, bossy woman myself: What Shelley Conn implies in her character sketch turns out to be true; that much of what appears to be happening between them is Porter’s fantasy and not necessarily returned on her side; that Porter realizes that Layla is the woman of his dreams — tough, smart, ethical, uncompromising, but oh-so-feminine underneath. I think Fedoralady is on the right track (beware of NC-17 writing if you don’t like that kind of thing). Mmm. I see she just posted a third chapter of “Truce.” Yum.

~ by Servetus on May 24, 2010.

16 Responses to “Danni or Layla?”

  1. Oh dear. I’ve not seen SB yet but if these are the sort of typical female characters I’ll have to endure then I’m happy to put it off for a little longer. It’s one of my pet peeves. Why is it so rare to see women realistically or satisfactorily portrayed on screen?


    • Well, this is a male fantasy series from start to finish. Mr. Armitage adds a fair amount of subtlety to it, but it’s a boys and toys show. So it’s not surprising that the female figures are so poorly drawn.

      I guess what I am saying is that if we had men who wanted better women characters in series tv, maybe we’d get the women characters we want to see. Even as I write this, I feel discouraged.


      • Yep, it appears to be (Just started watching it, in spite of what I said!) I think that often female characters reflect how men perceive women, and not necessarily how they actually are, or how they want women to be.. a mixture of both, perhaps. I think writers often underestimate their male audience. But yes, it is discouraging. I’ve not been at all impressed by what I’ve seen of SB so far.


      • Very much agree with the both of you!


  2. Danni was just a cypher and male fantasy in Chris Ryan’s book. In the series they seem to have tried to develop the character into a capable, efficient technie-savvy operative, while keeping elements of the honey trap angle from the book. It doesn’t work and I don’t find her particularly interesting in either guise.

    Layla has much more depth as a character and has potential as a possible pairing with Porter. I’d like to see him getting some action both in the field and in the sack! I’m glad that you mentioned fedoralady’s fanfic. I’m absolutely adoring what she’s developing between Porter and Layla.


    • I need to read the book. I’d been putting it off because it’s hard to get one’s hand on it in the U.S.; I’ll order it this summer when I am in Germany. While I understood the point plot-wise (and discussed it extensively, haha), it just doesn’t seem plausible to me from HER perspective. Like, seriously, you would see it as part of your job to seduce foreign operatives? That would be the sort of thing that would make me want a different job, but the way this character is drawn, she just takes it in stride.

      I’m pulling for Layla.


  3. Oh, I’m pulling for Layla.


  4. […] those who want a more heady discussion of Danni and Layla, see Servetus’ blog. At the moment I seem to be stuck on this girl gets guy/guy gets girl […]


  5. Oh, I’m cheering for Layla too. I think her character (not sure if it appears in the book) has the potential to become a leading female in -let’s hope- next series. She needs more involvement in the plot and a little more character development.
    On the other hand with the current approach Sky has obtained this amount of success, I don’t think the producers will risk it by changing it too much, IMO.

    Yes, fedoralady’s fic is great (all her fics are pretty cool). Part 3 is posted? Yay!


  6. As reluctant feminist, that word is so oldfashioned over here, but I know what you mean, read: as educated, western woman I keep an open mind to SB and ride the wave. Haven´t seen the series, but I ´ve read the book, so I know what to expect.
    The depicting of women as stereotypes, says a lot about ´those´ men who read those books and watch the series. They know women are not like that, but sometimes they want women to be beautiful and keep schtumm. That´s worthwile to notice for us, because, here we go again, men are wired differently than women. Look out for the UK FHM June edition with interview with RA. I will analyze this magazine on the male´s symplicity (in women´s eyes) to it´s max!! Hope it contains tips on working your abs! 😀 Yes, I take the micky out of it, as my blog implies. I leave you to do the serious bits, Servetus!


  7. In times of crisis, keep it simple! 😀


  8. […] dialogue, especially in the scenes involving Porter and pretty much all of the female characters. Servetus has touched on this issue already. God damn! Does he say the lamest things. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rolled […]


  9. I speculate Layla will become his boss and they will milk all the sexual tension for what it’s worth.” The woman he wants but can’t have! ”
    Pretty stereotypical but defenitely fun to watch.
    She’s intriguing but we don’t know anything about her life outside MI-6.
    Let’s hope the next series will have better scriptwriters but truthfully I’ll be watching it as long as youknowwho is in it.


  10. Btw I hadn’t read Fedora’s fic!! But i will now 🙂


  11. @iz4spunk: Do we feel a Ros/Lucas relationship potential? Good dramatic possibility! The “womam he wants, but can’t have” – courtly love!! Or something.:)

    Don’t know what the fine line is between “stereotypical” and universal themes. Nothing new under the sun – cliche, but depends on the dramatic presentation/writing/acting….anyway, I support like your premise! Really like it!


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