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When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Jessica Fletcher

By Keri Kelly

Times are tough, so to ease my news-induced insanity, I’ve decided to revisit something I’d done as a child to soothe my anxious brain. I searched for a mentor — someone I could look to for guidance, comfort and solace. A positive role model who could finally convince me to stop checking the news every five seconds and Googling — when will this end?

With social distancing measures in place, I was forced to find myself a mentor the old-fashioned way. I gathered the tools I’d used once before as a child — the remote, a couch and a television. In the '80s and '90s, my television mentors were Cindy Brady of The Brady Bunch, Samantha Micelli of Who’s the Boss, and Kelly Taylor of Beverly Hills 90210. I’d talk like Cindy, dress like Samantha and wear my hair like Kelly.

Since then, I’ve matured, and I’m not as interested in having a cute smile, shiny hair with blunt bangs or the perfect stonewashed jeans. These days, I require an older, wiser mentor to show me how to live a more mature, satisfying and focused life. After channel surfing one night, I stumbled upon Murder She Wrote, specifically the theme song. Every time I heard that medley as a kid, I’d vanish from sight, hoping and praying it was a good episode, and Mom would forget all about me for another hour. Now, I know why she sat glued to the boob tube every Sunday night, blissfully unaware of her responsibilities for that precious hour. Murder She Wrote was the greatest television show on television.

For weeks, I studied Jessica Fletcher to see if she had what it took to become my new television mentor. She was smart, super charming and incredibly lovable. She’d traveled extensively, owned a cool Victorian house by the beach and hung out with and occasionally got hit on by charming fellas like Len Cairo, aka Special Agent Michael Hagerty, Tom Bosley aka Sergeant Amos Tupper and Leslie Nielson aka Captain David Everett.

I studied Murder She Wrote while pondering essential questions like why Jessica didn’t ask The Partridge Family’s Shirley Jones during Season 4 how she managed to have such smooth, wrinkle-free skin at her age? Or why Jessica never gave into that cute Irishman Michael Hagerty’s advances during seasons 2, 3, 5, 6 or 9? Or why she didn’t give Tom Selleck’s tush a tiny pinch to find out if it was really as firm as it looked during the Season 3 Magnum PI/Murder She Wrote Crossover episode?

It was evident after a few episodes that I, a person so shallow that I wondered how Shirley Jones avoided wrinkles before the invention of Botox, wouldn’t be able to model the great Jessica Fletcher’s maturity and charm. But then, after some more thinking, I’d realized that the Jessica mentorship was actually already working. She had modeled proper behavior this whole time. Like not to spend so much time thinking about silly tush pinching, love interests, wrinkles or the apocalypse. It was time to keep my mind busy solving crime, collecting friends and writing best-selling novels.

Now, back to another episode, as I continue my quest to be Jessica Fletcher.

— Keri Kelly

Keri Kelly is an award-winning author, comedy writer and creative writing professor. She began writing comedy after a review of her first novel claimed the only good thing about the book was the humor. Learn more and say hello at

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