Morse is the Inspector, Lewis is the sergeant.

Morse is single, nursing a broken heart from 50 years ago when his fiancee dumped him, and thus gets to date a different lovely, elegant woman in every episode, ranging from opera singers to doctors, some of whom are victims, other criminals. Lewis is married and we never see his wife. Except she calls sometimes and nags him to go home. While they’re working on the case.

Morse has no children- he had a niece who committed suicide after taking the “wrong” drugs at a rave. Lewis has a gaggle of unidentified children, and he constantly has to leave Morse and help with their homework or watch them play soccer.

Morse listens to opera. Morse drives a beautiful red car and lives alone in a beautiful house. Lewis lives somewhere not worthy of note. We don’t know if he has a car or not. Nor do we know of his musical tastes.

Morse is handsome, despite being a thousand years old (see note on dating lovely women). Lewis looks like a brick wall, despite being young.

Morse speaks flawlessly. Lewis makes lots of grammar mistakes which Morse corrects with deep exasperation.

Morse is intuitive. Lewis has a good solid moral sense, but is not really intuitive, and probably doesn’t know what that means.

Morse gets to yell and curse Lewis. Lewis says “yes sir” when this happens.

Morse dies. Lewis lives. He gets a whole series devoted to him called Lewis.

Morse is the ancien regime, Lewis is the new. Morse does not survive, Lewis does.

And yet. When the Princess began playing Inspector Morse with me today in the wave pool and called me “Lewis” and asked me for her files, I instinctively recoiled, and screamed “Oh my god, I’d rather die than be Lewis. I want to be Morse”- forgetting for an instant that that is exactly what happens to Morse – he dies. Then I remembered. But still.

Would I really rather die than be poor, lower-class Lewis, Lewis the bloody survivor?

Is death actually preferable to being lower class?



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