Warning: Consuming this post may lead you down a slippery slope of new television addictions, that could result in the paid subscriptions of Acorn TV and BritBox…
The other week I stumbled upon an article that said that British Cozy Mysteries are the hottest television trend this year, and I totally could relate. That is pretty much exclusively what we watch in our house these days. I posted the article on my personal Facebook, saying that apparently Billy and I were not alone in our love for these shows, and I was pretty amazed at how many people commented that they are the exact same way! Fellow fans were just popping up left and right, sharing recommendations, sharing their favorites, asking which ones to watch. It was crazy! But it made me wonder how Billy and I got here, to this point. I am pretty sure I had never heard of any of these shows a few years ago, and now all of a sudden we are all in. I mean, I had always been a reader of of cozy mysteries, but the only one that was British at all was the Hamish Macbeth series. Which I still love!
So we started talking about it. Probably the very first one we watched was Hamish Macbeth and that was eons ago, so we didn’t really count it. Watching it didn’t spark an addiction, it was more because I was a fan of the books, and at the time it was pretty hard for us to watch any other shows anyway. Then we realized it all really began when Wyatt was born.
Wyatt was a teeny tiny little preemie peanut, 2lbs 13 oz at birth. When he finally got to come home 6 weeks later, the feeding schedule was pretty grueling, every two hours and it took us literally a half an hour to get him to eat, and then afterwards we had to hold him upright for another half an hour due to acid reflux. We spent A LOT of time just sitting and feeding him. Pretty much our whole existence like this for 6 months. So we watched A LOT of television. And we tried to find quiet, peaceful shows, because we didn’t want to wake him up if he was sleeping. One day Billy found the BBC Farm series – Tudor Farm, Edwardian Farm, Victorian Farm, War Time Farm on YouTube and we just devoured them. They were absolutely fascinating to us! (Edwardian Farm is my favorite!) But, then we ran out of them. And then I remembered the series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the books that I had loved a child. So, we watched those as well, until they swapped out the Helens and we stopped watching. But at this point, the damage was done. We were hooked on British television, although not yet the mysteries.
So we started looking about for more, and landed on Death in Paradise – not always super quiet but that was ok. Wyatt was getting a little older and we didn’t necessarily have the same requirements for our television watching. And he really enjoyed the theme song, and would do this little dance with his arms when it came on which was adorable. So we watched the seasons that Netflix had and then ran into the Great British Bake-Off, which of course is one of the best things ever, right? And from here, we were really off and running – we found Acorn TV first, then Britbox, and watched some Agatha Mystery movies, including And Then There Were None which was fabulous! We watched Agatha Raisin, Shakespeare and Hathaway, Father Brown (which is now my name for groundhogs because I saw one that lived right near a church last summer and checked on him all the time), Mapp and Lucia, The Bletchely Circle (Billy), Land Girls on Netflix, and most recently Shetland, but I think that is more of a crime procedural than mystery, as well as Doc Martin, also not a mystery. Miss Fisher, too, although that is an Australian show. And we are so grateful that we have a plethora out there to choose from! Everyone we have talked to has a different recommendation or favorite – Vera, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, to name a few. So those are on our list.
So what is the draw? The article said that it is the soothing quality of these shows, and I have to agree wholeheartedly. Sure they are about murders, but all these quaint small towns, justice being done, there is no real sex or violence. In fact, sometimes Billy and I expect guns to be pulled and out pops a knife in the bad guy’s hand. It blows our minds that these police don’t have guns, and it just goes to show just how far the gun culture in America has trickled down into everything. There is no huge sense of danger or peril that keeps us full of anxiety (ok me) – it is a different type of murder altogether, one that can be followed up with a cup of tea at times. These shows are just fun and easy to watch. Although, we do have one question – why do British actors seem to get swapped up so frequently? Sometimes even in the same role, like no big deal? Maybe it is a big deal, but we just aren’t aware of it living over here. We talk about that too, how we are not familiar with British celebrities, although we are getting better all the time! (Like spotting Richard from Death in Paradise as Stewart in Doc Martin! We felt pretty cool)
I can’t choose a favorite, exactly, but I will say Death In Paradise is right up there, although I am not watching next season. I have my triad of lady sleuths I love, Agatha Raisin, Lu from Shakespeare and Hathaway, and then Frankie Drake, although she is on Canadian television. Shetland is probably one of the best television shows we have ever watched, hands down. But since we are still making our way through this mega-genre and have years to catch up for, we are still making up our minds for our favorites as we go along.
What about you? Are you a fan of British television, or cozy mysteries? I know some of you who read here live in England, Scotland, Ireland.. what do you think of this American obsession? And, any recommendations?
I’ll be waiting with my cup of tea for your answers..