Murder, She Wrote is streaming on Netflix. You should watch it.

The show, which ran for 12 years from 1984 through 1996, features Jessica Fletcher, a recently widowed English teacher played by Angela Lansbury. Jessica is from Cabot Cove, Maine, where she starts writing mysteries in retirement and discovers she has a knack for sleuthing as well. In fact, after 12 seasons, four TV movies, a spinoff, two video games, four Golden Globe awards, and 12 Emmy nominations, Jessica Fletcher is one of the most successful detectives to ever appear on TV.

That's mainly because Jessica Fletcher is not just the star of your grandmother's favorite show. She is a phenomenon: a polite maverick, a pleasant genius who goes jogging, cares about her neighbors, and monitors the world with penetrating, vaguely cow-like eyes. She is tall. She is so much taller than I expected that I have compiled a folder of screenshots named Giant Jessica wherein she looks down on tiny male detectives. Here is one:

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

Here is another, just so you don't think I'm lying:

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

Jessica's height is incidental; she doesn't flaunt it. She's a patient and dutiful advocate for a staggering number of nieces and nephews who regularly get arrested for murder. She keeps her appointments. She is also (and this is key) astoundingly functional for a writer, so functional that — despite being a fictional character from a show that aired in the '80s — she's transcended the screen and landed a book deal. Her book series is doing great (the next one — Hook, Line, and Murder — comes out in October).

Jessica Fletcher is not tortured. She is not depressed. She entertains at her house, exercises regularly, and flirts when she wants to. She's silly — a ham, even, when she feels like it — and a fine actor with a decent voice. She solves problems simply and well, and she's just famous enough: not so much that people bother her, but sufficiently well-known that she's respected wherever she goes. (She's invited to teach criminology classes at universities all over the Northeast.) The police welcome her into their investigations. So does the CIA, for that matter.

Unlike Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, say, whose ability to detect was more or less contingent on everyone underestimating her abilities because she was old and female, everyone takes Jessica Fletcher seriously. As they should. Wouldn't you?

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

This is the power of Jessica Fletcher: Neither her silliness nor her normalcy dilute her brand. Her credibility is indestructible. So is her self-esteem: If someone's rude to Jessica Fletcher, she notices (oh she notices), but she never takes it personally. Observe how her chin registers intelligent surprise and majestic indifference in this exchange (and forgive the bad captioning):

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

But people aren't often rude to Jessica. She elicits respect in ways almost no one in the real world ever could. If she turns up at the police station, the police say, "Oh, you write mysteries? Thank God. WELCOME TO THE CRIME SCENE. HELP US."

And she does. She does!

The dialogue follows this loopily surreal pattern too. When she asks a man about his whereabouts at the time of the murder, he doesn't say, "Leave me alone." He says, "What a generous thought, but you needn't concern yourself with me. At the time of that detective's untimely demise I was seated at the parlor piano delighting my fellow guests with dozens of melodic gems from my incomparable repertoire."

Yes, he says "my incomparable repertoire."

Murder, She Wrote has everything in its gently swaying world. It concerns itself with computer technology:

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Even when there is no computer onscreen:

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It addresses the basic human problem of desire:

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(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

It features Lucille Bluth:

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In fact, it's guest-starred basically everyone with an IMDB page.

Mitchum Huntzberger from the Gilmore Girls (Gregg Henry) appears often:

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So does Kenicke from Grease (Jeff Conaway):

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

Leslie Nielsen admiring himself in the mirror:

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Blanche from Golden Girls (Rue McClanahan):

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Caitlyn Jenner:

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Jerry Orbach:

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There are come-ons:

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Affairs:

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Divorce:

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Lies:

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Slander:

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Insults:

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Accusations:

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Problems:

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Realizations:

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Gotcha moments:

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And, of course, confessions:

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Best of all, there is an episode in which a dog is accused of being the criminal and takes the stand in court. His name is Teddy.

Here he is, committing the crime:

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

He takes the stand, where he's cross-examined by Jessica Fletcher:

(Screenshot/Netflix/Murder, She Wrote)

I started watching Murder, She Wrote during one of life's more difficult stretches and was surprised at how soothing I found its mildly sordid universe. As fantasies of superwomen go, few are as humble or silly or satisfying. So I'll recommend the show as Jessica Fletcher herself might: Try it! You could do worse.