Rizzoli & Isles and the Lesbian Subtext

Now, I am fan of Tess Gerritsen’s work. And I quite like Rizzoli & Isles, the TNT show based on her characters, best friends Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles. But make no mistake, there’s only the slightest of connections between the two—if you love one, you may hate the other.

One of the oddest choices I found when I started watching the show was the obvious “flirtatiousness” between Jane and Maura. I am not the most sensitive person in the world to such things, so I thought maybe I was wrong, but the Intertubes assure me I was not imagining it. Or, at least, I wasn’t alone in imagining it.

For a long time, I just went “well, that’s their artistic decision.” And then I found the After Ellen site’s Rizzoli & Isles “subtext recaps” by “Dorothy Snarker,” and my enjoyment increased tenfold. These are a third form of entertainment entirely. You don’t have to watch the show to read them and get a giggle. For example, Snarker says about the most recent episode:

Then, in a moment that stretches not only credulity but the laws of nature, the dead guy rises. Well, one particular part of him rises. And as it rises it even makes a cartoony creaking up, up, up sound. Because when you’re a very special guest star, even your penis gets sound effects. Jane is, naturally, horrified. Because who wouldn’t be horrified by a zombie boner?

[. . .]

Maura performs an emergency cricothyrotomy to save him, which in non-medical terms means she jams a pen barrel into his throat. It works, the dead guy comes to and smiles at Maura. He even grabs her hand. Um, how long was he without oxygen in that body bag? Because only someone with severe brain damage would try of flirting with Dr. Isles in front of Det. Rizzoli. As the EMTs cart him off, Maura asks if she and Jane “should bump fists?” Man, what is up with you ladies and your adding/leaving out of important words today? You should definitely bump something together, but not fists.

See what I mean? No need to watch the show. And you either like the humor or you don’t. If it’s your kind of thing, I urge you to check it out. Even if you don’t watch the show, and especially if you do.


  1. Saundra Peck

    I have watched this show since day one and never got this vibe. When my daughter told me about it a few weeks ago I tried to pay attention to it, but am still missing it. Oh well, I like it because it is a show that has two smart, sexy women who are friends, have each other’s backs and support each other while working in great jobs. If there is a deeper subtext to this show and others are enjoying it too, yay!!!

  2. Lakis Fourouklas

    I watch it because it’s kind of fun. I never gave it enough thought though. And I’ve only read one of the books. I would say that the characters blossom in their diversity and when confronted with facts which are outside their areas of expertise.

  3. Leigh

    Never thought about the two women that way. I do wish they were a little more like their counterparts in the book. I have the same problem with “True Blood.”

  4. Patrick

    maybe i’ve seen too many episodes of Xena, but I’ve always perceived a lesbian undertone to the series. Nice to see I’m not alone in this.

  5. Ron Brown

    No way. Not in the books and not in the series. That would be a definite turn off or change channels for me. Two hot chicks who both like men- how is that about lesbians? Caca de toro.

  6. Clare 2e

    People see things differently, but I never read it in the books, and I do see it in the show. I recall seeing a clip of two-woman pj party where they were cozied together in one’s bedroom collaborating on filling out a faux online ad for lesbian dating (as undercover investigation) and discussing what they’d want in a woman and how each rated. It wasn’t salacious, but it certainly hinted at something to me. Then again, all the crime stories make me suspicious and hyperalert for hidden motivations, so YMMV?

  7. Mary Saputo

    I don’t get where some people are coming from with this “lesbian vibe” but what I just felt compelled to write about is the writing on the last 2 episodes. Perhaps it’s gone on longer than just the last 2 but these last 2 have just been AWFUL! It’s never been a wonderfully written program but these last 2 STINK! I know. Don’t hold back, etc. but I just couldn’t any longer. If something doesn’t change quickly, I won’t be watching any longer.

  8. Laura K. Curtis

    @bitsy08 –
    I’m a few episodes behind, but I wasn’t terribly impressed when they started on the Maura’s mother storyline.

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