Are you craving some mystery right now? Perhaps you’re in the mood for a little murder? We’ve got just the thing! We absolutely love crime thrillers and mysteries. There’s nothing better than trying to get to the bottom of a whodunnit before the conclusion of a book, movie, or television show. Right now, many of us are stuck inside and looking for things to take our minds off the hardships of this health crisis. A twisty TV show might do the trick.
It’s such a blast trying to use the clues a show doles out to draw conclusions and convince your significant other (or just yourself) that you’re really smart and understand context and subtext. When it comes to police procedurals and crime shows, no one does them like the Brits. In the UK, they’re obsessed, OBSESSED with detective shows. You’ve probably heard of a little show called Sherlock or even dug a little deeper with Luther, but there are tons of crime thrillers left to explore. Fortunately, some of these shows feature a strong female lead in the role of detective. Here are our favorite shows about crime that coincidentally (okay, probably not a coincidence) feature our favorite female TV detectives.
10. Marcella – Netflix
Marcella features a working mom and detective named… Marcella who works for the Metropolitan Police Office in London. She takes time away from the job to be with her family and focus on being a mom only for her husband to leave her. The job sucks her right back in!
Marcella, played by Anna Friel, is both tough and a touch paranoid because as she’s working the case, she realizes things are getting personal. The creator of the show, Hans Rosenfeldt was the mastermind behind the Danish smash hit, The Bridge. This chilling thriller is a wild ride. Two seasons of the show are available on Netflix.
9. Hinterland – Netflix
Hinterland is a Welsh series about a pair of detectives trying to solve murders amid the stunning landscapes of Wales. While the show leans heavily into DCI Tom Mathias’s story, the real reason to watch is for his partner, DI Mared Rhys. She’s a very complex and intelligent character that the show makes more and more time for as it plays out. Three seasons of Hinterland are available on Netflix.
8. Unforgotten – Prime
Nicola Walker is such a compelling performer and she brings so much grit and compassion to the character DCI Cassie Stuart. The premise of Unforgotten involves a team of detectives who are charged with solving what are essentially cold cases from years and decades before. Walker’s character leads the team and treats each investigation with the delicate care it deserves. She also has an interesting home dynamic with her aging father and college-aged son. Three seasons of Unforgotten are available on Amazon Prime.
7. Scott & Bailey – Hulu
Two lady detectives, say what? Scott & Bailey is a bit more formulaic (aren’t they all?) than the other shows on this list, but it really gets into a rhythm that’s enjoyable. The show is centered on DC Janet Scott and DC Rachel Bailey who head up Manchester’s Major Incident Team. These dedicated detectives are great at their jobs, but their personal lives are often just as much, if not more stressful than a day on the job. Five seasons of the show are available on Hulu.
6. The Fall – Netflix
The Fall made a splash when it came out in 2013 with many noting the feminist themes of the show. The Atlantic even declared the show “the most feminist show on television.” Gillian Anderson gives a great performance as a Detective Superintendent solving heinous crimes in Belfast. The character is complicated, smart, and completely over some BS. As she hunts a serial killer, the serial killer starts to hunt her and it’s just so creepy. All three seasons of this show are available on Netflix.
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5. Collateral – Netflix
A pregnant detective? What? Yes! in Collateral, Carey Mulligan plays a pregnant detective named Kip Glaspie who’s tasked with solving the seemingly random murder of a pizza delivery man. What she uncovers is a huge conspiracy that involves some of the most powerful people in the military.
]This gripping thriller is nuts. If you enjoyed the films The Hours and The Reader, Collateral might be a good choice for you. It was written by a writer from each film, David Hare. The only season of the show is available on Netflix.
4. Prime Suspect – Hulu
Prime Suspect is a classic crime drama that features Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison. Tennison is tasked with solving a series of serial murders (yes, it’s like that) all while trying to deal with sexist office politics and open hostility from her male colleagues. Mirren, as you’d expect, is fantastic. We’re certain so many of the excellent female detective characters on this list would not exist without her work in this role. Prime Suspect is fittingly available on Amazon Prime. There are 7 seasons or series to choose from there.
3. Line of Duty – Prime
Line of Duty is a thrilling watch. The show highlights detectives that investigate other detectives and members of the police force. They’re all about finding dirty cops. While the first season doesn’t lean too heavily on DC Kate Fleming, the later seasons really utilize her character and make her one of the heroes of
Throughout, Line of Duty is full of twists and turns and features some of the vilest characters ever written. If you do one thing, please watch season two of this show. It’s gold! The character of Kate Fleming is played by Vicky McClure who’s an absolute joy to root for. Line of Duty is available on Amazon Prime. Four mind-bending seasons are available for your viewing pleasure.
2. Happy Valley – Netflix
Happy Valley‘s star Sarah Lancashire is a treasure. The actor portrays a police sergeant named Catherine Cawood who investigates drug cases in an especially hard-hit town in West Yorkshire. Along the way, she becomes involved in a case that’s extremely personal to her and has implications for her entire family.
The darkly funny show sees Lancashire giving a masterful performance that will make you laugh out loud before it makes you cry. Two seasons of this show are available and both can be found streaming on Netflix.
1. Broadchurch – Netflix
If you have not seen the first season of Broadchurch, do yourself a favor and get around to it. This show exploded when it came out in 2013 in the UK and its popularity quickly sailed across the pond and was recognized by American audiences as well. Thanks in large part to fantastic performances by David Tennant and Olivia Colman the show has become a huge success. While Tennant’s broody performance of DI Alec Hardy gets a lot of credit, it’s Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller that really elevates the entire show.
The supporting cast is also incredible and the mystery at the heart of the first season is entirely engrossing. The second season slips a touch, but Colman’s performance helps anchor the rocky bits. Finally, in its third season, Broadchurch puts the sleepy seaside town that bears its name to rest. It’s fantastic. All three seasons of the show are currently available on Netflix.
There you have it! 10 shows to try that all feature female detectives, if not in the lead, certainly not far from the spotlight. Mysteries are so fun to solve and letting your mind get lost while you try to unravel a complicated plot might be the perfect exercise to help you relax right now. Now, go watch these coppers!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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