Rizzoli & Isles: More than Just Friends?

This strong female duo gets picked up for another season.

By: Allison Godin

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Tess Gerritsen's crime novels have recently made the translation from page to screen in the TV series Rizzoli & Isles. It's a growing trend that has resulted in such primetime hits as Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Pretty Little Liars. Rizzoli & Isles makes use of a familiar trope: a cop and scientist working together to investigate murders. We've seen this done on Bones and Body of Proof, and procedurals like NCIS and the many incarnations of CSI helped build the genre. What distinguishes Rizzoli & Isles from these shows is the series’ focus on two strong, intelligent female friends at the top of their respective fields.

The title characters are Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon (Law & Order), and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles, portrayed by Sasha Alexander (NCIS). Rizzoli is a tough tomboy who, despite being the youngest officer to be promoted to detective in the Boston Police Department, has dealt with the prejudice directed at female cops. Dr. Isles, while brilliant and impeccably dressed, has a habit of diagnosing people in the same manner as she does those on her autopsy table. Her tendency to ask extremely personal questions and spout off irrelevant facts makes her socially awkward. This awkwardness fades slightly as the series progresses, but her love of science and logic manifests in an unwillingness to make guesses, and a lack of understanding of pop-culture references.

There is nothing particularly unique or original about this portrayal of females working in law enforcement or the field of forensics, but the close friendship between the title characters defines the show and makes it stand out from the others. In the novels, Jane and Maura gradually form a bond based almost entirely on mutual respect and their solitary positions as females in their fields. While this relationship could have been replicated on the show, the creators chose to show two women forming a close friendship. This relationship evolves quickly throughout the series and has reached a point where they are as close as family.

Fans of the show have become very vocal over the closeness of these friends. From the first episode, details such as eye contact and physical proximity have been picked apart for hidden subtext. It's been described as "the show that didn't know it was gay" because of the "Rizzles" romance that the creators never intended. Over the seasons, the show has acknowledged the input of fans by including subtle hints to an intimate relationship. Though the show will return this winter with the last few episodes of its fourth season, long-time fans have threatened to boycott the show until this intimate relationship, which exists solely in fan-fictions (for now), is realized on screen.

Watch Rizzoli & Isles on the TNT network in the United States, or Showcase in Canada, to find out if these women will remain friends or take their relationship to a new level.