Tonight marks a significant milestone for the British crime drama Death in Paradise as it airs its 100th episode. Despite being considered a somewhat uncool series, it has surprisingly surpassed popular shows such as Happy Valley, Sherlock, Luther, Cracker, and Prime Suspect in terms of episode count. How did this happen? What is it about this seemingly vanilla production that has made it one of the longest-running crime dramas in the UK?
One key reason for Death in Paradise’s success is its strong viewership. With an average of 8 million viewers, it ranked as the second most-watched drama in British TV last year, just behind Happy Valley. It has also become one of the BBC‘s biggest properties, exported to over 200 countries. Its spinoffs, Beyond Paradise and Return to Paradise, have further expanded its reach. But what is the secret to its enduring but somewhat bewildering appeal?
Death in Paradise offers a soothing narrative and visual experience. Filmed on the lush island of Guadeloupe, with its palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas, the show is a visual escape. Its scheduling during the dark UK winter adds to its allure, offering audiences a dream-like vacation brochure experience from the comfort of their homes. Meanwhile, the show’s plots follow a comforting formula. Each episode presents a murder mystery that is investigated by a British detective, adding an element of fish-out-of-water humor. The detective has a moment of inspiration, gathers the suspects in one room, and cleverly unravels the truth, often with flashbacks to the crime. Arrests are made, and the episode ends with a celebration on the beach. It is a classic whodunit, providing the satisfaction of a puzzle solved and a sense of order being restored to the universe. For viewers seeking an undemanding, feel-good experience, Death in Paradise delivers.
While Death in Paradise thrives in the genre of cosy crime, there are other shows streaming platforms are betting on to captivate audiences. One such example is the Netflix adaptation of Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once, which gained record views during the first week of 2024. Coben’s thrillers, including The Stranger, Safe, and Stay Close, are known for their tense domestic melodramas, packed with plot twists. These shows fall into the category of “trough TV,” popular but not as prestigious as high-profile box sets. Death in Paradise could be considered the televisual equivalent of a comforting shepherd's pie, offering nostalgia and easy consumption. It resides alongside other shows like Midsomer Murders and Vera, often aired on Sundays when viewers crave undemanding content after a long week.
As Death in Paradise celebrates its 100th episode, viewers can enjoy the familiar and comforting format that has made it such a success. So grab a plate of shepherd’s pie, sit back, and relax on the sofa as DI Neville Parker and his team solve yet another intriguing murder mystery on the picturesque island of Guadeloupe.
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