Lately my mum discovered an absolutely fantastic murder mystery show called Rosemary & Thyme. It follows two British women who do freelance gardening work and, well, solve murder mysteries.
Rosemary dresses a little young sometimes, but these are still fundamentally two adult women who care very little for fashion and shoez, and quite a lot for gardens. Gardening is something of a stereotypically feminine pastime, but only something of one, especially in Britain, where this takes place, and it’s also quite a lot of work. The two women are frequently shown lugging around all manner of heavy things, and getting dirty as they work. It doesn’t come across as “women’s work”, just as work. (And it confirms my suspicions that I don’t have the fortitude to be a gardener.)
They have one of the very best female friendships that I’ve ever seen. No problem passing the Bechdel test here! And they are beautifully self-reliant. Rosemary has an advanced degree in plant biology, and was university lecturer until the events of the first episode prompted her to start working with Laura Thyme. Laura was a police officer with a fondness for gardening. Together, their skill sets allow them to tackle any problem, whether it’s a diseased rosebush or a dead body. They almost never require outside help, and all the key insights come from moments of brilliance. They don’t really enter genius territory they way Mr. Monk does but I have seen murder mystery protagonists who are less self-reliant and more lucky, and Rosemary and Thyme are definitely successful due to their skills.
I also think one of the sweetest things about the show is the way that romance is handled. Usually I hate, hate, hate romantic subplots. They’re usually sexist, insipid, or both. But they work really well here! For one thing, it’s usually Laura who inspires infatuation, which automatically makes me happy because she’s the less conventionally-attractive and generally those characters don’t get to inspire lust-at-first-sight. But I also like the way that it’s treated as something that normal people do and are interested in. Laura is dealing with her divorce throughout the series (she and her husband separate in episode one) so she doesn’t tend to take people up on it, but she and Rosemary will talk about it and it always adds to the story, never distracts from it. Plus, like I said, it’s always really sweet. I particularly liked the Latin teacher at the boys’ school. Nice fellow.
But (and this brings us back to the “great friendship”) just like in Xena, no matter how promising the relationship seems, the men are always gently turned down so Laura and Rosemary can continue on as a pair.
They have a great relationship, which is just nice. It makes me happy to watch. And every episode they do a real garden, as well, and they’re always stunning. The only bad part is that it ended after three seasons. So if you’re at all interested in murder mysteries, rent Rosemary & Thyme! You won’t regret it.