Television

5 reasons you should binge-watch Frankie Drake Mysteries

For those of you who love discovering new period murder mystery dramas, look no further! We’ve got a gem that deserves your attention.

For those of you who love discovering new period murder mystery dramas, look no further! We've got a gem that deserves your attention and it comes by way of the creators of Murdoch Mysteries.

Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the adventures of Frankie Drake and her partner Trudy Clarke at Drake Private Detectives, the city's only all-female detective agency, as they find themselves fighting crime and all that jazz. Yes of course, there's jazz and dancing and romance.

"From Gatsby-esque garden parties to rough-and-tumble speakeasies, there's a global appeal to the 1920s that we're excited to bring to life in Frankie Drake Mysteries," says Christina Jennings, Chairman & CEO of Shaftesbury and Executive Producer of Frankie Drake Mysteries.

"This was a time in Toronto of booming construction, considerable population growth, and a major shift in the role of women from the home and farm into the workplace." 

So why should you binge this one? 

1. Witty, funny and brimming with sass

(Top to bottom, left to right: Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw, Sharron Matthews as Flo Chakowitz, Lee Smith as Frankie Drake and Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke.)

Not only is this show created and produced by fierce women, it sees the sassy, snarky, smart and independent all-female lead characters challenge convention to fight crime and the system in a time when those types of duties were entrusted to men. 

The ladies often get into trouble while trying to solve cases that others can't handle, but it's nothing their wit, cunning plans and Frankie's street smarts can't get them out of. 

Frankie Drake is a powerhouse woman who knows how to throw a punch. She has a dubious family lineage and a moral compass that sometimes, for the greater good, points outside of the lines of the defined laws of her time. 

She's a motorcycle-riding rebel who longs for adventure and defies expectations with help from her partner Trudy Clarke. Clarke grew up with a lot of responsibilities and is a captivating character in her own right with many hidden talents including singing.

Let's not forget Mary Shaw, a morality officer, whose job is to enforce the morality of women and last but not least, Flo Chakowitz, the most enthusiastic morgue attendant you'll ever meet who is also putting herself through med school at night.

Flo's one-liners and Mary's breathless eagerness are the funny bone of the show and lighten up the mood as the ladies search for answers. Though all four ladies are constantly underestimated simply for being women, they use it to their advantage to acquire information and ultimately solve cases.

2. Explores still relevant political and social issues

(From left to right: Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake, Ryan Allen as Marcus Garvey, Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke.)

Aside from having an all-female cast, the series also delves deeper into women's and civil rights movements.

In thought-provoking plots, Trudy's skin colour is addressed, we see Frankie Drake help Marcus Garvey — a real-life civil rights activist — catch a thief that stole money donated to black girls' orphanage. Mary, the morality officer, is not letting the fact that women aren't permitted to be full Toronto police officers stop her from following in her father's footsteps. And there's a lot more.

3. The cozy mysteries

(From left to right: Joe DiMambro as Ronnie Tallarico, Natalie Brown as Bessie Starkman, Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke, Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake)

From flyboys to gangsters and rum-runners to speakeasies, the series sees very interesting narratives and situations including jewel thefts and even espionage. The mysteries are enigmatic with the perfect amount of intrigue to keep you guessing. The best part? It doesn't get gloomy!

4. Features real historic figures

(French actress Romaine Portail as Coco Chanel.)

Each season builds towards the secrets of Frankie's past and if that isn't interesting enough, we get to see real historical figures take part in helping Frankie solve the cases. 

Agatha Christie helps Frankie uncover the reason behind her friend's disappearance, Coco Chanel is accused of a brazen assassination attempt, civil rights activist Marcus Garvey hires Frankie to catch a donations thief and Ernest Hemingway, a recurring character, first appears in the series' pilot episode as a reporter for the Toronto Star, which is based on actual fact — Hemingway really worked for the Toronto Star!

Some shady real-life characters walk through the doors of the Frankie Drake detective agency, too. Namely Bessie Starkman, a ruthless Polish-Jewish mob boss in 1900s Toronto who ran an underground casino and illegal sports betting. Her exceptional financial prowess made her the brains of the gang and therefore an interesting character to add to this awesome mystery drama. 

5. The '20s fashion

(From Left to right: Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke, Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake and Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw.)

The '20s brought on a fashion revolution that overthrew the turn of the century's Victorian style and the long hoop skirt. More of the ankle was revealed with below-the-knee skirts and fitted drop waist dresses. Cocoon fur coats, fringe wraps, short bobbed hairstyles and of course the signature cloche hats — which were a huge step away from the wide Edwardian hats of the 1910s — became a huge trend. 

Frankie Drake Mysteries fiercely represents the '20s fashion which in turn showcases the ladies' confidence in a powerful way. And they say, 'Don't judge a book by its cover!'

The series aims to entertain so you won't be straining your thinking muscles too much but you'll definitely be left wanting more of this squad and the multifaceted relationships they forge.

When and where to watch

The Frankie Drake Mysteries is currently in its third season which is all about British aristocrats, illegal boxing, the supernatural, and political fundraisers so be sure to watch it Mondays at 9 p.m. (9:30NT) on CBC Television or catch up with past episodes anytime on CBC Gem.

The Frankie Drake Mysteries: Season 3 Trailer

2 years ago
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The Frankie Drake Mysteries Season 3 Trailer 0:30

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