A few episodes back on CSI Vegas, we got to see the geeky (or rather the super-geeky)
side of lab tech Wendy Simms. In addition to loving horror films and
working in a lab, it turns out Wendy is an unabashed 'Quester' (in the
fictional world of CSI, that's the equivalent of being a
Trekker/Trekkie). She's discovered at a convention by her equally geeky
lab colleague, Hodges, and the awkward, but endearing exchange they
have is relatable for any of us who feel an immediate connection to
someone who shares what many might seen as a 'silly' obsession—for me
it's anyone with ample LOTR media or Prog rock albums hiding in their
Anyway, it got me to thinking. CSI Vegas has maintained a pretty solid record for portraying a workplace that's not only, NOT a boys club and but one that lets women get their hands dirty, and show all the varying perspectives of women working in forensics. While it's evident in looking at the images of the characters below that the writers have a ways to go on incorporating a little more diversity among the women and it's clear that they're all basically what many would call 'classically beautiful', I still think it's worth giving credit where it's due. They've created not just one token female character with smarts and bravery, but they've created half a cast with admirable women characters who, to put it simply—kick ass. Here's a little round-up of the women on the night shift of Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation:
Catherine Willows: CSI Level 3, Supervisor
Willows is a high level CSI—in fact, she's just been promoted to the night shift supervisor, as her predecessor, Gil Grissom, recently left CSI to pursue other things. Catherine is a former showgirl and single mom, with a family connection to the dirty underbelly of the Casino business—namely her dad is the owner of one of these said casinos. While Catherine's background adds to her character, her history never prevents her from being a top investigator. Her professionalism, humor (she's usually the first one to see humor beneath all the darkness that comes with working CSI) and emotion make her a favorite of mine. (I shan't pretend that I don't have a black vest, baseball cap and toy detective kit ready and waiting for my Halloween debut as CSI Catherine Willows).
Sarah Sidle: CSI Level 3
Sarah is one of the more intense and brooding characters on the show. As a child-abuse survivor, she often feels more invested and emotional about the victims she deals with. She also has a tendency to get aggressive with co-workers when under stress—something that women characters aren't always 'allowed' to do, without being assigned nasty labels.
Wendy Simms: Lab Tech
Little-by-little, Wendy has been getting more screen time. She clearly takes her job very seriously and uses every opportunity she gets to learn more about forensics. When she first appeared on the show, she seemed like she might just be a pretty face to add to the lab, but I've really grown not just to appreciate her, but to relate to her (see her secret obsessions above).
Riley Adams: CSI Level 2
Riley is a newer character and one that I'm still trying to figure out. One thing I can say is that she has some very authentic bristly/arrogant qualities in the ways she interacts with co-workers, while being very focused on the job at hand—never seeming to let the emotions of a given case take control. I'll be curious to watch her character develop.
Mandy Webster: Lab Tech
Mandy is a fairly minor character at this point in the show, but she's clearly very bright and engaged in her work. She's never afraid to 'regulate' on her male colleagues as well—Hodges, I'm looking at you!
Sofia Curtis: Homicide Detective
Sofia is no longer on the show, but for around 50 episodes, she played a detective with no fear in the field and a strong desire to move her career forward.