Now and then, everybody has a bad day. And what you need most, after a bad day is for something to cheer you up. And where does a person as addicted to crime novels and police procedurals as I look for some cheering-up?
Well, there’s no need to look far. Basically crime- or crime related series include personal subplots, in most cases there are attempts at humor, or background romances, which might impact the overall tone of the show. The shows on this, (deeply personal and thereby inherently incomplete) list are mostly lighthearted in tone, stories that make you smile, and if they aren´t, they are well executed enough that you don´t mind.
So, without much further ado, my personal top-6 list of cheer-up crime(-ish)-series.
What did I say about this list being mostly lighthearted?
This is about feel good shows, and I stand by that, but there is no way Hannibal is not making the list.
Despite it’s dark tone and enormous amounts of gore, the show is inherently character driven. To a degree, in fact that the number of random murderers steadily decreases, until in season three, only Dollarhyde remains, which might be a reason why it became inaccessible to casual viewers and got cancelled after season three.
Hannibal wins, always. If you accept this as a given all the tragedy happening around him is inescapable. Everything will fall into the place Hannibal choses for it, and the people around him have to find happiness in the constraints of this inescapable fact.
The surprising thing is, that a good part of the characters actually manages this, just take Alana and Margot. There are warm moments, there are funny moments and some that appear deeply heartfelt, these moments are what gives life to the narrative, and they are why this series qualifies as a cheer-up piece.
And let’s be honest, Hannibal is nothing if not aesthetically pleasing.
5.Rizzoli & Isles (2010-2016)
I loved this show, when I was younger. The jokes and the overall feeling of familiarity and family within the series made it a real cheer-up show for teenaged me, and much of that still remains.
Maura and Jane are complex and funny, their personalities are polar opposites in many ways, which make for a fascinating dynamic with moments both emotional and hilarious.
The Rizzolis are a family with issues, but in many ways they are the heart of the story and tie everything together, nicely, police or not.
Of course, there are the queerbaiting issues, which became apparent to me once I lost my hetero-goggles, and admittedly they do dampen the enjoyment.
But still, a show about two crime-solving female best friends, surrounded by loving friends and lots of family drama? That could really only be improved on, by them being girlfriends.
4. The Mentalist (2008-2015)
This is a genre in itself, isn’t it?
Quirky male amateur helps competent lady-cop in solving murders, annoying everyone around him in the process, bonus points if you add a tragic past.
But well, there’s a reason for that, and The Mentalist works.
Patrick Jane is a con-artist, a shameless manipulator with zero respect for authority, and if he doesn’t want to work with you he won’t, and he will sabotage you in the process. While often annoying for his colleagues, Jane’s antics are deeply amusing for the viewer, especially if he does end up helping, eventually.
The professional police around him have gotten used to putting up with his bullshit, well, Lisbon’s team at least, and it’s not as if they are shining representatives of professionalism, anyways.
Overall, The Mentalist might not be the most original of shows, but in terms of being the funniest, it’s definitely up there.
Unfortunately, the show lost its footing a bit after the resolution of the Red John plotline, and while the last two seasons are still enjoyable, they are no match for their predecessors.
3.Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-2015)
Here is where it gets really good, so good in fact, that I wrote an article about it.
Miss Fisher’s is a period piece, unlike the others on this list, and it is as original as it is charming.
Set in the Melbourne of the nineteen-twenties, the bright and cheerful aesthetic is, for the faux-noir loving crime genre, about as unusual as you can get.
And again, the characters drive the story. Phryne is a freethinking philanthropist, who gets into adventures both because of her personal enjoyment, and because it gives her the opportunity to help others. In some ways, one could consider it The Mentalist formula, only gender-swapped.
Phryne’s merry band of strays creates a sense of family-of-choice, helping each other through thick and thin, especially Phryne’s friendship with Dot is lovely. Even the romances feel natural and get you personally invested, the budding relationship of Dot and her Constable Collins is particularly adorable.
The mysteries often touch onto delicate issues, but are handled well, both for modern sensibilities, and with regards of their time period, yes, this involves no small amount of period appropriate feminism.
While we are talking about helping others, let’s talk about Leverage.
In terms of this list, Leverage has the lowest corpse to episode ratio (no, I did not calculate this), and this is a big part of why it is so good. Not the lack of dead people, mind you, but the choice of villains.
Most crime series have villains, that while they are undoubtedly bad people, you are unlikely to meet their like in real life, or at least that’s what you tell yourself. But businessmen, those are real, those are tangible, and if they chose to exploit those depending on them, by ways both legal and illegal, it is damn hard to bring them down.
And bringing them down is just what Leverage does, a band of criminals turned Robin-Hoods, led by functioning alcoholic Nate Ford will stop at nothing to con- and steal from the rich and powerful, to give it to those they have wronged.
The plots are elaborate and trope-filled while never breaking the suspension of disbelief. The characters funny and relatable in their oddness, stereotypical in some ways yet not stereotypes in the negative sense, their constant bantering is certainly a sight to behold.
And at the end of the day, you just know that the good guys win, sometimes that goes a long way.
1.Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
So, is there any show with more cheer-up vibes than Leverage? There sure is, and it has been too short.
Pushing Daisies makes you smile, there’s no way around it.
The premise is crazy, a pie-maker who can revive the dead reanimates his late childhood sweetheart and together with a knitting private detective they interrogate corpses to find out how they have died? Fantastic!
There are bright colors everywhere, and the oversaturated aesthetic is perfect for a sweet show like this; and they invite spontaneous musical numbers (seriously, this is a thing).
The mysteries are often personal in nature, but not in a way that is dark or depressing, more like they give a look into the departed’s life and the people around them, eventually always focusing on something positive, this show is, after all inherently optimistic.
The characters of course are as colorful, crazy and refreshing as the rest of the show, and the romance of the-girl-named-Chuck and Ned-the-pie-maker had me repeatedly smiling like an idiot– and if a romance has me smiling like an idiot that means something, indeed.
The overall verdict of this show is, please watch at your own risk, you might develop muscle-cramps from too much smiling and/or cavities from all the utter adorableness.
Of course, there are many more good and cheerful shows out there, that didn´t make my list, which might be because tastes differ, or most likely it is because I had no chance of watching them yet.
I have heard good things about Dirk Gently´s Hollistic Detective Agency and Castle, so those are definitely on my to-watch list.
What are your favorite cheer-up Shows?