I love Sundays.
This is the day I give myself complete freedom to do whatever I want. Sleep in late, read the paper in full, don’t get out of my jimjams, read all day in bed, mainline TV shows, bake all the things, take a two hour bath, or write the great Canadian-American novel; doesn’t matter. Sunday is the day that I do all, some, or none of those things. Sunday is the day for me.
This morning I woke with a purpose and the dreams of my sleep still vivid (but now fuzzy as the day has progressed). By noon, the bed linens had been the changed, the dog had been walked, several loads of laundry were completed, and TheHusband was in the process of making his chili for our consumption later. I had declared this to be a day of “reading::writing,” which apparently meant I was going to mainline Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries all day long. This turned out to be a very fine idea, indeed.
I first came across Miss Fisher on Acorn TV. If you are a fan of British or British-esque television series, serials, and movies, hie thee to their website and sign up for their streaming services, which are ungodly cheap of $30 a year. Yes, that’s right — $30 for an entire year of Britishisms. Acorn TV is available as a channel on Roku and can also be watched on your computer/tablet. Acorn is the company that produces many (if not most) of the Britishisms DVDs that are made available via PBS, so the company is legit. While their streaming catalog is small, it is often mighty, and routinely updated.
[According to Acorn TV, they are going to start streaming seasons two of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in January. Since Netflix picked up the show almost a year after Acorn TV had it for season one, this might be a good time to sign up!]
So let us hurry back to Miss Fisher for we must not keep her waiting.
The premise is this: Honorable Phryne Fisher, she who is named after an ancient Greek courtesan, returns to 1920s Melbourne after years away. Rich, beautiful, young, and clever, Miss Fisher has seen a thing or two of the world and decides that her next calling in life is to be a lady detective. The first episode, Cocaine Blues, deals with a murder, cocaine ring, and an illegal abortionist. Series one follows the trail of the books and series two is apparently based on original to the show work.
Most who fall in love with the series do so for varied number of reasons: the costuming (bloody hell, her frocks!), the time period, the location, Miss Fisher’s general bad assery, and the murder mysteries are not spoon fed to the viewers. For me, there are a couple of things about this series that stand out, namely the subjects and topics that even by 21st century tastes could be construed as being provocative: Education, abortion, women’s rights, worker’s rights, family planning, slavery, adoption, religion, and the list goes on. These are very big topics to tackle, and the show has done them with grace and tact. It is not sensationalized or feels phony as there is a level of understatement that cannot be missed about the problems and issues that wrapped up 1920s Melbourne.
Some of the critiques of Miss Fisher, the books and the television show, stem from the unlikelihood of her “modern sensibilities and mannerisms” would be real in the 1920s, which means someone has not been paying attention to history. Much of the women’s rights movement began in that era and Miss Fisher’s seemingly flippant devil may care attitude and sexuality are right in line with the period.
My sins are too many and varied to mention, and frankly I intend to continue sinning so I won’t waste your time.Miss Phryne Fisher, S1 Ep9 Queen of the Flowers
And that is perhaps why I fell so deep and hard for this show – Miss Fisher is a strong role model breaking with gendered traditions to live the life she feels best suits her. She does not have misguided notions of marriage, family, or love. She takes lovers with the same ease I use picking out what pair of Chucks I’m going to wear and makes it clear to them she’s not the type of women to be committed. She makes a fabulous aunt and ward, but would never dream of being a mother. She bucks against the traditions of ladies etiquette, deportment, and social graces by finding them damning and of ill use in her modern world but is still skilled enough to use them when needed. Instead, she becomes a Renaissance woman in the purest sense of the word: She speaks several languages, learns how to protect herself with martial arts, can tango as well as juggle balls. She’s lived a paupers life and a rich life, she’s traveled extensively, she was an artists model and worked in the circus. She can pick locks and fly an airplane. She is kind, generous, and she chooses and creates her urban family of misfits who are fiercely loyal to her.
Miss Phryne Fisher sets to prove a woman can and should have it all but she does it with an elegance and grace many of us in this modern world, I myself am highly guilty of this, lack. There is a ring of criticism that Miss Fisher falls into the camp of “she’s-too-perfect-itis” and while I can see the value of that criticism, I think the writers have done well with giving Miss Fisher backstories to illustrate she is not so perfect after all.
Because Miss Fisher becoming the new hotness, I’ve collected some worthy links to the TV series, books, and other interests to get you started:
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix [streaming]
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Acorn.TV [streaming]
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Australia ABC
- Official Phryne Fisher
- Miss Fisher official Pinterest account
- My What would Phryne do? Pinterest board
- The first Phryne Fisher book, Cocaine Blues, is currently available for free on the Kindle
If you’re a fan of mysteries and looking for something to take the Downton edge off, I would highly implore you to check out Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries post haste!