US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Will the American remake of 'Broadchurch' have any guns?

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Sometimes you never really notice something until it’s not there, right?

This happened to me as I recently watched the British crime drama Broadchurch. The series, set in a small British coastal town, begins with the murder of an 11-year-old boy that tears the community apart. It is the job of Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) to figure out which member of their close-knit town holds the dark secret of having killed the young boy.

It didn’t strike me until the end of episode 6 (out of 8) that something about the show was very different than its American crime-solving counterparts. At the end of this episode, Hardy and Miller are closing in on a dark figure inside a building who they believe could be the killer. As the detectives stood outside the door, ready to burst in to the unknown and facing a possibly dangerous person, it hit me: Neither of the detectives was carrying a gun. I admit my first reaction was one of panic for the unarmed detectives. They’re going in unarmed! I thought. They’re crazy!

The dramatic scene ends without any use of weapons, either by the police or the shadowy figure. In fact, save for one ominously lurking crossbow that one suspect possesses, I can’t recall any other weapons on the entire show. Even the young boy’s death, we learn early on from the autopsy report, was by strangling, so the detectives aren’t searching for a damning smoking gun. (How many American mystery-solving shows revolve around who had the weapon, or if the bullets match the gun a suspect owns?) Even without shootouts or fistfights, the show remained compelling and had me thoroughly glued to the edge of my seat for the entire series.

Of course, part of the reason that the unarmed detectives were relatively safe in this scary confrontation was that it was unlikely for the suspect to have had a gun, either. In the United Kingdom, the rate of civilian gun ownership is 6.7 firearms per 100 people. In the United States, the rate is an astonishing 101.05 per 100 people—more than a gun per person. Additionally, Britain’s strict gun control measures have seen more than 200,000 guns and 700 tons of ammunition removed from the streets over the course of the last 15 years.

I’ve thought of this dynamic of Broadchurch again as more news has come out about the plans for the American remake of the show, scheduled to air on Fox in 2014-15, including last week’s item that Tennant will appear on the U.S. version. I can’t imagine a modern-day American crime-solving show where the detectives’—and the bad guys’—guns aren’t drawn at least a few times. It will be interesting to see how the American version differs from the British original, especially if the guns and violence are escalated to cater to an American audience, or to accurately portray the reality of gun use in the United States.

Image: Flickr photo cc by Gene Hunt