London’s Greatest Investigator Has Arrived.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke follows Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips), the daughter of famed private detective Henry Scarlet (Kevin Doyle). Eliza has dreamed all her life of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a detective but is unable to due to the fact she is a woman. After Henry dies however, Eliza is left penniless. Not wanting to have to marry in order to survive, Eliza resolves to continue her Father’s agency.
This proves to be easier said than done however as no one will take her seriously because of her gender. With no one wanting to hire her, Eliza is forced to turn to childhood friend William Wellington (Stuart Martin)– who is a Detective Inspector. Eliza proposes the two work together on cases, so that he can gain her insight and she can gain enough experience and reputation to be taken seriously by potential clients. Will Eliza be able to make it as a detective in such a male dominated world or will her constant bickering with William and the Victorisn prejudice set her back from acheiving her dreams?
I loved the Victorian setting of the series and the historical context that came with it. The show’s perspectives on women, racism, homosexuality, etc were all very interesting and I liked how each played into the storyline. I’m a big fan of historical fiction, especially detective historical fiction and find it interesting how each era in history handles the private detective genre. Different eras view the detective character in different ways (Miss Fisher in the 20s, Ms Fisher Modern in the 60s, Stumptown in the present day, etc) and I think Miss Scarlet and the Duke is definitely the earliest example I have seen of the private detective character.
I loved the show’s premise of the very first female private detective and the plotlines that came with it. Being the first female detective meant Eliza faced many problems throughout her investigations, being taken seriously for one. I loved the reaction scenes from the other characters when Eliza revealed her profession- ranging from shock and horror to confusion and amusement. For Eliza, the biggest hurdle was actually getting people to believe she was a detective and I liked how the show was able to use the era’s historical context in this way.
I really liked Eliza as a detective, having spent her formative years dreaming of becoming a PI like her Father, meant she had built up a skill of scientific and deductive reasoning. As well as her knowledge, Eliza is also able to use her place as a woman to get information, people often underestimate her gender so she is able to use her femininity to get what she wants. Eliza was a really clever character and she made a fantastic detective, I really enjoyed her as a protagonist.
Eliza and William had such fantastic chemistry and I loved their constant bickering throughout. Being the titular characters, their relationship quite literally made the show and I think both actors gave amazing performances. In Private Investigator series, the relationship between the PI and the police has a massive effect on the tone overall. In Miss Scarlet and the Duke, having Eliza and William be childhood friends created a history and a bond between them straight away, the relationship was consistently funny and charming and I loved both characters so much.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching Miss Scarlet and the Duke. The Victorian setting was interesting in terms of both historical context and to the crime genre and I loved the relationship between Eliza and William, both were great characters. I can’t wait for season 2 to see what Eliza gets up to next.