Mary Beth Writes

Last post we were talking about what stories, books, art, TV, shows, and music works for us now. It’s pretty obvious that living four months in isolation through a pandemic - changes what our spirits want and need. Several people in Friday’s comments said that they are watching British crime shows.

Us, too. Len and I binge-watched Endeavor. Each show is an hour and a half, there are 6-8 shows per season, and there are seven seasons … so far. There will be one more season later this year when its released from England to the US. So yes, pretty invested!

Len commented as we watched (and watched and watched) – that the show felt different from American detective/crime shows. We started paying more attention to how the stories were playing out.

In a too-brief nutshell, a show about crime is a show about sin and lawbreaking. We empathize with the horror of good and reasonable people when they come upon a messed-up dead person lying in the woods or wherever.

“Whoa, that’s very sad and bad.” And then the show begins.

Now we get to identify with the person who is going to solve the mystery of who killed that person and why. We like Endeavor Morse because he’s young, intense, has great cheekbones and blue eyes, and wears suits that hang on his skinny body. He forgets to eat because he’s so passionate about deciphering what happened and why. Often he has to solve the puzzle right away before the bad guy kills again. Oh, and he’s SUPER smart. Which, obviously, is just like us.

You know the shtick.

One of the main delights in watching a whodunnit is trying to guess who done it. Len and I were surprised by how often we were sure it was this character but nope, it was that character.

We realized we were generally picking the slimiest character as the perp. We expected the murderer to be the arrogant person who was (we thought) assaulting kids, assaulting women, exploiting immigrants, the rich person offing vulnerable people, the racist cop, etc. But nope, the bad guy was seldom the one who acted so badly towards vulnerable others. The bad person in this Brit show was usually someone who was either fairly normal, who was killing to get more money or inheritance. Or someone who had been teased and ridiculed by others earlier in their life who had now “gone round the bend” to harm and kill others.

If the satisfaction of a crime show is watching good people fighting bad people and thus reestablishing the righteous state – then these differences are interesting.

American crime shows are about addressing crimes that are new to us in the past decade or so. Assaults against women. Men in power behaving badly. Priest and clergy abusing kids. Jerk white cops assaulting victims who are not white. People stealing from good organizations. People who are treasonous spies and corrupt CEO’s with power they use badly.

British shows are about people who were given reasonable chances to live good middle-class lives, who got greedy and screwed up.

Brits are working out how to act as individuals.

Americans are working out how to live in a big, complicated society in ways that are decent, moral, and freeing.

Every society has its morality plays, tales, stories, operas, whatever. Humans are forever reevaluating who we are and how we ought to act. Crime shows play out our options and questions and I think its interesting how many of our American stories are calling us further up the difficult road towards justice for all.

So two takeaways:

1. Len and I watched ONE British show lately plus the regular amount of American crime shows. We are media consumers, not media experts. This essay is for thinking, not for proving.

2. If we crave British shows lately instead of American ones, maybe its because we feel overwhelmed by the stupidity and injustice around us. Maybe we are choosing tidier shows that let us escape, for an hour or two, from violence, exploitation, and disrespect.  

And also, as Ms. Smith says in the last comment, it’s less traumatic to watch a show where the cops don’t generally carry guns.

This is funny but OMG, who doesn’t empathize? Thanks, Pat K. 

"The only thing open is nothing!"

https://twitter.com/Ngu_Spesh/status/1281259100450566146

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

I've been watching British crime dramas for years mostly because they are carector driven, I watch alone or on the phone with my sister, or texting with a friend while she watched in Milwaukee while I'm at home... The person with the problem's can be the inspector solving the crime or the criminal... Sometimes it's both as you watch their dark secret slowly reveled as they solve the crime ( Prime Suspect )... Most don't look as if they got lost on the way to the fashion catwalk and decided to solve crimes instead ( Vera ) Alot look like you and me or our nieghbors... Not alot of gun play either which is refreshing now a days... And they are just spoke well written that how can you not love them? Mr. "B" warned me a month ago that he and his sister are addicted to British Murder and Mayhem... I said that it's also an addiction of mine so we'll get along just fine... His sister is always ordering the latest installment's of this or that British crime dramas for binge watching...

I am watching Mid Sommer mysteries on utube. The newer ones are doled out to us very slowly. Just finished season 18. I will have to go back to Poirot until season 19 comes available. I like them because the hero doesn’t die and pretty much the only people who die are meanies! And talk about red herrings and plot twists! I’d like to say it keeps my mind sharp, but that might be pushing it!

A 7th Season of Endeavour???!!! How the hell did I miss that! In a quarantine no less! My day just opened up! :) Don't forget to watch Vera. You will love her! Patricia/Fl
Mary Beth's picture

Laughing. When we had three little kids but lived in a 2-bedroom house in Chicago, I frequently had a dream where there was a third bedroom in the back of the house. I'd wake up happy - and then remember that was a dream. (In the house I lived in until i was 4 there WAS a secret room behind my bedroom closet). I know your joy! There's more!!

have you watched Grantchester? ---- I think you would like it!
Mary Beth's picture

I will check it out!

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