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A few days ago, I received a call from my younger brother, who was trying to download a game onto our Playstation back home. He asked if it was alright if he deleted “my game” to make space, and I had to laugh because any game I played on the console, he played as well, and I told him as much. He responded with, “No, Sis, it’s saved under your name, and it’s 98% complete. I’ve never gotten that far in a game before.” It turns out that it was “my game,” namely CSI: Fatal Conspiracy, which I played to completion (the unfinished two percent was the credits) back in middle school. The conversation went to the back of my mind, until the next day at the gym, where lo and behold, the cardio center is playing reruns of my old guilty pleasure. 

Gosh, Detective Willows is still my hero, even now, which got me thinking. I have always liked forensics: I’ve done the CSI Experience in Las Vegas, solved murder cases at the Mob Museum, and on top of staged scenes, worked with DNA, chemical compositions, and blood analysis in multiple labs. I used to think that maybe I was a little weird because while my friends were watching Pretty Little Liars, I was watching Castle, and on top of that, I was recording NCIS on the DVR so my mom and I could watch the newest episode together on the weekend.


When I was younger, I couldn’t explain why I liked Law and Order: SVU so much except for the fact that I thought it was “cool.” But, now that I recall every CSI video game I played on the Playstation and Wii, I know that the reason why I was determined to solve crimes alongside these fictional detectives is because they were women. They were just like me, and sometimes the men on TV told them they weren’t fit to be detectives, but it certainly didn’t stop them from putting bad guys behind bars. I could be just like them, digging up clues and doing research, even if it seemed like the science field had been dominated by men for so long.

Crime dramas truly expanded the role of women, showing that cool cops and smart scientists weren’t just boys. These lady detectives weren’t just assistants to men either. All sorts of quirky, intelligent women started popping up on television, from procedural dramas like Criminal Minds, to even more gruesome pursuits, like Dexter, Bones, Cold Case, The Mentalist, even Psych. They all had strong female characters that actually made a difference in their field. Their storylines weren’t about proving men wrong, their storylines were about proving themselves and their theories right. As a young girl, that spoke volumes to me.

I owe a lot to crime dramas, not just in the sense that they got me through middle school, but also because of the fact that I am in the Biology field because of female detectives. I have already written about how Nancy Drew had such a big impact on me, and she wasn’t even chemically analyzing DNA in a lab! 

Bulletin board with clues

I am where I am today because I was inspired by the empowering women I saw while I was growing up. When I watched crime shows with my mom on the weekends, I could imagine myself in their place because they were just like me. I let my brother clear the save file off of the Playstation, in the end, but that reminder of where I began has made me reflect on my path over the past week. I’m going to graduate next year with a Biology degree all because I used to stay up past my bedtime to watch CSI and think that one day, I’d be just like Detective Willows, the smart, strong, confident female detective who paved the way for women like her, and many more young women to come. 

Alea Lehr

Cal Lutheran '21

A Biology major with a love for anything and everything in the ocean! Any time away from examining coral structures, wading through streams, looking at cells, or grappling immunohistofluorescence is spent reading, writing, and baking. (She has the best banana bread recipe) Though she mostly composes scientific papers, creative writing is her true passion, and when she isn't coming up with an article, she's jotting down ideas for novels. During a bad case of writer's block, she tries to find inspiration by talking to her best friend, and dog, Bear.
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