Welcome to the first installment of Pop Pedestal, a series dedicated to the pop culture personalities we most admire! First up is Angela Lansbury's Jessica Beatrice (J.B.) Fletcher.
If you've got a problem, yo, she'll solve it.
The Pedestal Profile: For those of you who haven't been spending your nights watching Murder, She Wrote on Netflix Instant, J.B. Fletcher is a teacher turned mystery writer turned amateur detective who lives in the small town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Everywhere she goes someone is murdered, and it falls to her to clean up the mess left by bumbling law enforcement officers and solve the case using her sharp wit. The show was on the air for 12 years, so she solved a lot of crimes. Says TV Tropes, "It's been calculated that Cabot Cove has a murder rate of 86 per 1,000; by comparison, the most murderous city in the world, Caracas, has a murder rate of 1.1 per 1,000. That's not counting the murders that happen outside Cabot Cove." (Why did people keep inviting her to their theater opening nights and yacht parties when it was a given that someone would be murdered, you ask? That's a mystery even J.B never solved.)
Admirable qualities: Now, there are many reasons to admire J.B., not the least of which is that she's a crackerjack detective. However, I am personally inspired not just by her detective work and her jaunty scarves, but by the way she keeps her cool in stressful situations and refuses to be intimidated by anyone.
As an older woman, J.B. is often dismissed or bullied by those around her. Instead of either giving up out of frustration or getting pissed off and smacking someone, J.B. always chooses to persevere and solve the case. She stands up for herself and does the right thing even when everyone else thinks she's wrong, and she believes in her intellect and abilities even when no one else does. (She always ends up being right, of course.) An officer from Scotland Yard is up in her face? Not a problem. A millionaire tries to buy her off? Whatever. Her nephew Grady is in trouble AGAIN? She's got this. And if her bravery wasn't enough already, Jessica always kicks ass using polite manners. No swearing or backstabbing from this classy dame, my friends.
Her influence: I'm not the only one who finds J.B. Fletcher worthy of admiration, of course. She is the subject of much fan fiction, a wiki, some awesome art, and she was the first inductee into the I Fry Mine in Butter Detective's Hall of Fame.
One of my favorite pieces of J.B. fan art. By Henki.
J.B. has also inspired many musicians. Interestingly enough—because Jessica doesn't strike me as a hip hop fan—there are lots of rap songs that mention Murder, She Wrote (R. Kelly, Eminem, Chaka Demus, etc.), and there are some fantastic J.B. Fletcher tribute songs on YouTube. If you have a few spare minutes, you will NOT regret watching these:
That's not all: Some other reasons J.B. is an inspiration: She's a hardworking writer who achieved success later in life; she's a great neighbor and friend to Amos, Seth, and everyone else in Cabot Cove; she makes the best clam chowder in all of Maine; she is a great dancer. What's not to love?
Think of her when: I don't know about you, but when I get frustrated I often take a second to ask myself, What would Jessica Fletcher do? (I'm not alone in this.) Think of J.B. whenever someone doubts your ability or tries to push you around. She'd keep her cool and take care of business, and you can too!