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Day #3 - Elle Burke (White Collar)

Fabulous Fictional Females Fandom Fiesta February

Day 3 – Elizabeth "Elle" Burke.


This may seem like a surprising entry for so early on. But I want to recognize and celebrate females not just in the main role or in positions of power and authority, but ones who are ordinary/extraordinary “normal” women, too.

Besides, Elle is so awesome I had decided to add her back when only 8 episodes of the show had aired.

That's somewhat amazing, especially given that her role is essentially a third wheel in a buddy show.

Elle is very much married, and happily so, but she is by no means simply "the wife of the FBI guy" - She has a successful career of her own (event planning) as well as friendships and activities aside from their plans as a couple.

She is smart, funny, hospitable, educated, and a skilled multi-tasker. Sophisticated and classy, but not high-maintenance. Highly insightful, a keen judge of character, compassionate, but with a slightly wicked sense of humor.


But once again what I think I love best about her is the cliché-flaunting aspect of her character.


On any other show, she’d be the longsuffering wife forced to share her law enforcement husband with his first love – the job. How many times has that whole “other woman” type jealousy been played out over and over again?

From the very first episode, Elle flew right in the face of those expectations.

Her husband forgets to come home OR call her to say he’s working late? Not only does she not make him feel guilty or complain about dinner being ruined, but she asks for an update in the case and gives him a pep talk.

She is a very girly, fluffy type person, all pearls and curls, dresses and heels, manicures and mascara, - yet it’s clear that she is intimately familiar with his caseload and has served as his sounding board and brainstorming partner for years.

Oh yeah, and consider this situation from the latest episode.

Peter has to flirt with another woman to get some information. Elle finds the business card with a handwritten personal number in his pocket and asks for an explanation. Upon hearing it, she looks absolutely shocked “You had to seduce another woman???” As he urgently tries to reassure her, she clasps her hand over her trembling mouth, squints her eyes, her shoulders shake ... “Are you ...laughing at me?”

Yes, yes, she is.


Elle is cracking up at the concept of her stalwart, besuited, straight arrow husband pretending to hit on another woman. (“Oh honey! You had to flirt! You HATE flirting!” “Please tell me there was surveillance video! I have to see this!”)

Later in the episode, SHE is the one who suggests using the other woman’s interest in him to get inside the case. Oh yeah, and she totally puts the line on speakerphone and coaches him through the flirting!!!

Now THAT is confidence in yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

Like I said, I adore her.


And it appears that so does just about everybody else does too - both those WITHIN the story (she won over Mozzie, the little conspiracy gremlin who refers to Peter as "The Suit" in a mere matter of hours) and those who watch the show.

In fact, I think the most defining piece of evidence in the case of “Elle = Awesome” lies in this fact: Even the SLASHERS adore her.

I don’t do slash, but I am well aware that fandom has no problem demonizing (figuratively OR …quite literally, in some cases) existing female characters – especially those established as romantic interests - to more effectively clear the way for their own fantasies.

In an exceedingly rare turn of events, here fandom, that capricious slash-crazy bunch that they are, appears to have collectively and actively EMBRACED her.

OT3 is the rule.


Even general fanfic and mere drabbles is hardly ever just "Neal and Peter banter/solve a case" - Elle must make an appearance, or at least gain a mention - with her general awesomeness remarked upon.

Frankly, if I didn't adore her as well, I'd find it somewhat nauseating.


While it is fun to watch people building a relationship and learning to trust each other and work together, I personally have a great fondness for strong, established relationships - whether paternal, fraternal, romantic, or platonic.

The Burkes give me that ...in spades.


There's actually quite a bit of a "Thin Man" vibe to their relationship (and as a massive fan of that series I do NOT toss that comparison around lightly) - and it's grown more in recent episodes. I can't to see what they do next.


Madame Burke.


Just one element that makes White Collar the coolest, most suave show on the air.

EDIT: A few days after making this post, I came across an interview with the show creator talking about the character of Elizabeth Burke.
Tiffani asked where Elizabeth came from, and I said, “Honestly, I based this character on Abigail Adams.” I’d seen the John Adams mini-series, and what I found fascinating about Abigail Adams is that you had a woman who was very strong in her own right but at the same time was a passionate defender of her husband, who by all accounts was an incredible workaholic. Elizabeth is the same. She knew what she was getting into when she married Peter.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
AHHH! YES! EVERYTHING YOU SAID HERE! I adore this woman so much and for all the reasons you noted here and more. The OT3 that's been embraced by both the show and fandom is just totally and complete proof of that. :D
Feb. 4th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
The show is SO much fun, and although I like caper/con shows anyway, I'm fairly certain that the characters make it 100% MORE AWESOME.
Feb. 3rd, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Elle is such an amazing woman <3

Need to get an icon of her pronto!

Great idea for February, raligh!
Feb. 4th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Great idea for February, raligh!
Thanks. I'm amusing myself, if nothing else!

(I'm always up for any excuse to talk about awesome characters!)
Feb. 4th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
(By the way, speaking of icons, one of the characters in your icon is going to be my Fab Female Of The Day for tomorrow!)
Feb. 6th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
I had a feeling you would do Tami at some point! Are there any spoilers for 4x11 or 4x12 in the post? I haven't seen those two yet!
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Heh. Actually, I haven't seen past Season TWO, (I had to severely cut back on my television about a year and a half, two years ago and many, many shows got moved to my "catch up with them someday" list. FNL, was one of them)

So, no, no spoilers.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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