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Prime Suspect: Who Trusts the ‘Beef Trust’?

Last night's Prime Suspect premiere featured intense institutionalized sexism against our new heroine, Detective Jane Timoney, a twitchy and oddly costumed Maria Bello. Yes, the casualness of the misogyny is disturbing, but whatever dangerous obstacle it seems to pose is deeply undermined by the men's name for their brotherhood: The Beef Trust. The Beef Trust! In The Jungle, Upton Sinclair used the term to describe the corrupt, monopolistic meat industry, but here it seems to just mean "not you, Jane." The guys are supposed to be intimidating — they're so tough and mean and brutal, and they keep all their emotions deeply buried, so they are prone to violent outbursts! — but calling yourselves the Penis Union really dilutes the potency of being in a menacing unofficial professional association. Prime Suspect has a lot going for it, namely terrific source material, an inventive executive producer in Peter Berg, and a compelling star. But it could stand to back off the odd terminology.