When it comes to portraying Catholicism, Catholics, Catholic Clergy, etc. there are A LOT of tropes that bother me. It almost makes me want to run for cover whenever a character in a show, book, movie, etc. chances upon a church or any man of the cloth.
Leering priests? Ugh.
Rigid, ruler-smacking nuns? Ugh.
Bishop more invested in finances than souls? Ugh.
Token Catholic friend who is afraid of sex, the human anatomy, etc? Ugh.
I find Catholics are often portrayed in a very one-dimensional manner that prevents them from ever saying or doing much to betray the misconception that we think everything is a sin and that our very survival is dependent upon the wearing of knee socks and a plaid skirt. I sometimes want to scream at the television and say "COME ON, WE ARE A LOT MORE THAN THAT!"
And then came Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Let me just throw out a caveat emptor by saying that this show is far from PG material. There's murder, intrigue, sex, and a number of other factors that may turn viewers off. However, if you get past that you are also met with a beautifully written show with great dialogue, jaw-dropping 1920s fashion (if you miss Downtown Abbey's costumes and haven't checked out this show....PLEASE DO), very decent sleuthing, a colorful collection of characters, and one of the greatest fictional Catholics there ever was. Her name is Dot, and she is the very capable (and delightfully sweet) assistant to private detective Miss Phryne Fisher.
Dot is a multi-dimensional character that is not only a practicing Catholic, but a genuinely well-written character. She has dreams, wants to keep her job after marriage, is an active member of the community, and she helps solve crimes. She may dress more conservatively than the glamorous bombshell that is Miss Fisher, but she is far from the dowdy, plaid skirted Catholic girl we've grown accustomed to. She also matures wonderfully in this show without having to compromise her morals in order to keep up with her crime-solving employer and friend. She may start off as a docile young girl that can be stepped on, but she blossoms into a sidekick with a backbone (without losing her sweet, compassionate persona). Did I mention that she's Catholic and plays an active role in her parish?
I absolutely loved Dot from the start, but her falling in love with a Protestant made me love her even more. I don't want to spoil the entire plot, but she does manage to stand by her man without compromising her faith, a feat many shows today never attempt. It would have been so much easier to simply have her give up on her faith for love. I've seen this yawn-inducing love before faith trope too many times and applaud this show's ability to navigate through such a taboo (for the 1920s) subject. It says a lot about this show that they were able to seamlessly introduce this plot line in a murder mystery show whose main protagonist isn't even religious.
For the binge-watchers among us, all three seasons are on Netflix. If you are worried that it may take you a while to catch up, there are 3 seasons to this show (and possibly 3 movies and a spin-off series to come), so that's 30-odd episodes at about 50 minutes an episode. With a bit of effort, it is definitely possible to get caught up during Thanksgiving weekend. This being a Catholic blog I feel I must warn you that while there are great Catholic themes and characters, this show also has some VERY mature/non-family-friendly/NSFW themes (including murder, violence, nudity, sex, drugs, murder, etc).