‘Frankie Drake Mysteries’: Exploring feminism and crime in the 1920s
Are you looking for a good murder mystery show with the charm of the 1920s aesthetic and a feminist flair? Well then, thank goodness we have a show to fit your very specific needs as Frankie Drake Mysteries ticks all the boxes.
Frankie Drake Mysteries is a Canadian TV show set in 1920s Toronto that follows the fictional character of Frankie Drake, the city’s first female private detective. Frankie dives into the world of crime-solving with her partner Trudy and a cast of female professionals, including a pathologist and a morality officer. If you’re looking for a show with plenty of moxie then check out Frankie Drake Mysteries.
Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) is a woman who staunchly flouts the gender norms of her era. She wears trousers, rides a flashy red motorbike, and runs her own detective agency. Frankie does what she wants, not caring a fig for anyone’s opinion of her, and solves cases usually dismissed by the police. While she’s not a crime-solving genius, Frankie is smart, resourceful, and street-wise.
Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) is Frankie’s dear friend & crime-solving partner. As the first-born of Jamiaican immigrants, Trudy grew up shouldering many responsibilities, but it turned her into a capable individual. Trudy acts as the calm voice of reason to Frankie’s gung-ho actions and uses her natural performance skills to work undercover.
At the police station, Trudy & Frankie have some allies, Mary & Flo, to help them with the details of a case. Mary Shaw (Rebecca Liddiard) is a capable officer, making her way as a woman on the force. While her job may be to measure skirt lengths & haul away disorderly women, Mary is truly passionate about upholding the law and finds private detective work to be fascinating.
Flo Chakowitz (Sharron Matthews) joins the team as a morgue attendant. The stoic war widow puts herself through medical school at night but during the day she let’s Trudy & Frankie in on the gory details they need to solve the case.
Feminism & diversity
Frankie Drake Mysteries takes a female-centered approach to its story and portrays the women of the series as complex characters who have their own stories and are still capable & hardworking. Frankie, the leading feminist force of the show, draws the bulk of her support and resources from female characters.
The series actively works to paint the scene with a multi-colored brush as it reflects how diverse Toronto’s metropolis was even in the 1920s. Frankie Drake Mysteries takes a cue from history to include characters like Wendy Quon (Grace Lynn Kung), the owner of a Chinese speak-easy who sees a lot from behind her bar or Tickles Malone, a jazz cat & friend of the detective duo.
A page from history
Frankie Drake Mysteries makes sure to take historical accuracy into account beyond its beautiful costumes & props. The show illustrates the role of women in a post-war, Prohibition era Toronto, when women were entering the workforce as a result of WWI. And despite its rather sanitized tone, the show also nods to important political & social change happening in Canada.
The series pulls story lines from relevant historical events of the time and adds in a few familiar faces in the cameos with figures like Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, and Coco Chanel. The history & diversity of the show mean that we’re never too far away from a fascinating story, fraught with dynamic characters.
While it’s not a gritty crime show by any means, Frankie Drake Mysteries adds another layer to its story, allowing diversity to enrich the settings, characters, and plot. The third season of Frankie Drake Mysteries debuted in 2020 and a fourth season is already in the works.