I think I’ve converted my mother! I love mysteries – of all kinds – but Mom was not a fan. So, either I’ve worn her down or she has seen the light.
Cozy mysteries and older TV shows are nice because they are not too graphic or gritty. Although some of the fictional characters may have passed on in the show (murdered!), the real people were all alive at the time and showed up on some other show the next week. There is very little blood and gore, so the cozies are separate from reality and can be tolerated even as we grapple with the horror of another school shooting here at home and the news reports of conflict and bombings around the world.
I think what works with these shows is that the puzzle is the real draw and the murder is just the opening gambit. The crime could just as easily be robbery, espionage or some other sinister activity – the game’s the thing that attracts people. Yet, it is still disconcerting these days to perceive violence, however banal and tidy, as entertainment. There is something strange about seeking solace in a murder mystery.
However, if I set aside my civic-minded side for a moment, I was very pleased to hear my mother say, “I like that Miss Marple!” because I like her too. If I am ever able to retire, I’d love to be some combination of Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote). I already knit and I love to write so … who knows!
In addition to Miss Marple, we watched a Columbo marathon over the weekend – another great character in the pantheon of TV detectives. I loved this show when I was a kid and it’s great to see it again. Peter Falk is just wonderful and the props still work: the raincoat, the cigar, the car, the dog, and the “just one more thing”. Mom was delighted with the marathon. The slower pace of older shows works well for her – she has a hard time when current shows speed through both action and dialogue (even with “closed caption” on!).
When working through their cases, Miss Marple and Columbo are both underestimated by those who don’t know them, which makes their victory all the more satisfying. It’s fun to see the people who dismissed the old lady and the untidy, plodding detective get their comeuppance when our heroes carry the day.
I think my mother identifies with Miss Marple in that she, too, feels undervalued and dismissed, even though I do my best to make her feel comfortable and appreciated. The reality is that it’s usually easier and faster to do things myself – at times I have a tight schedule and need to get through several things. However, I know that I need to slow down and include Mom more. She needs to feel that she can contribute.
In the meantime, what I enjoy most about the fact that she is open to mysteries is that it gives us something more to enjoy together. We can watch an episode of something in the evening and cheer when the bad guy is finally caught.