Gentleman Jack: I was just passing
April 22, 2019 8:27 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

 
I was confused by the coach accident for a while -- from the cross-cutting with Anne Lister's racing the stagecoach into town, I thought she was the runaway driver. And once I realized it was just a fakeout, I was just confused as to whether the mystery driver's identity will be revealed later or if the story has already moved on.

But I thought this was a strong start, looking forward to the rest of the season.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:45 AM on April 23, 2019


Previously, on Anne Lister-related media I have also consumed.

How dare HBO put this on at 10:00 on a school night! I was so perturbed at having to stay up past my bed time. My husband was like, "So watch it tomorrow." Nope, no, no can do, it's got costumes and lesbians (and, as I read the credits, a bunch of old Doctor Who production alumni who I have fond, warm feelings towards), it's like they made this especially for me.

I did find it a bit uneven, though. Suranne Jones is phenomenal and I also really liked Gemma Whalen as her sister. The tone is just... odd? Uneven? Not quite grasping what it's reaching for? We'll see how it shakes out. The production design also strikes me as just a little off and I can't decide if it's intentional or not. I think it probably is?
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:56 AM on April 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it felt like they were going for very arch wall-breaking when Anne looked directly at the camera early on, and with the voiceover about seducing Miss Walker at the end, but completely dropped that in the middle? I liked it, because I like period pieces and women who don't want to take shit, but I also felt that it didn't quite feel like it had a grasp on the tone in wanted, yet (in contrast, to, say, the recent Vanity Fair remake).

I drove me crazy trying to figure out where I recognized Gemma Whalen from, but that was delightful. I love the costuming.

I think I actually just want more of Anne going around a collecting the rents.
posted by TwoStride at 6:34 AM on April 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was quite taken with how much of the non-gentry we got to see and spend time with. A refreshing change from some other BBC pieces I could name...
posted by Mogur at 10:37 AM on April 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm also a fan of them making her not entirely likable.
posted by srboisvert at 9:35 AM on April 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister is available for free on Amazon Prime Video.

Strangely, if you google for it you get a page on Prime that requires you to pay $1.99. I found the free version by clicking on an actors name.
posted by srboisvert at 1:33 PM on April 25, 2019


I loved Gemma Whalen. That's partly because my crush on Yara Greyjoy continues unabated, and partly because Gemma Whalen is apparently sexy and charismatic as hell in whatever role she's playing, and partly because her character is interesting. I like that she's apparently is more clear-eyed and warm-hearted than Anne, but is still the forgotten little sister. Hopefully she'll wind up coming into her own.

I'm not sure about Anne herself. She's interesting but unlikeable, which is par for the course with HBO. The problem for me is that she sort of sucks all of the air out of the room. I enjoyed the scenes when she wasn't around more than the ones when she was. I don't think that's a problem with the actress/acting, I think the character is *meant* to suck all of the air out of the room. Still ends up being a bit much, though.

The good thing is that the world of the town is pretty cool, and I liked a lot of the other characters. I also liked that this wasn't gritty but also wasn't totally trippy and abstract -- that's a sort of new tone for HBO. No wonder it felt a little uneven.

I think that if the town gets a chance to breathe without Anne butting in everywhere and all the time, that the show might be more fun. And Anne herself IS an interesting and intriguing character, I just think that maybe less is more to a certain extent.
posted by rue72 at 8:31 PM on April 25, 2019


I really enjoy period shows that feel a little breezy and modern, so I loved this. It's only 8 episodes, though? I'm already hoping they can maybe find more story to tell because I need more than 8 episodes to drool over how gorgeous Shibden Hall is.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:49 AM on April 27, 2019


I like the energy of the show. One question I have is that if she weren't a historically groundbreaking lesbian character could you consider her a villain - scrupulously collecting rent from poor tenants, turning her farmland into a coal production mine, and looking to groom a young and naive heiress? I'll keep watching this one.
posted by xammerboy at 11:04 AM on April 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


One question I have is that if she weren't a historically groundbreaking lesbian character could you consider her a villain

I think within the show as it is, she's an antihero. Which is the norm for HBO.

The show even uses her sister as her foil, so that we're sure to pick up on her villainy.

That said, I don't think we're supposed to root against her. I just think that we're supposed to understand that she's fundamentally venal and self-interested, and to be worried for her and those around her. She's Gentleman Jack's Walter White.
posted by rue72 at 4:56 PM on April 27, 2019


The first time I watched this it was like very quiet and very in media res so I had a hard time understanding what was going on & who was saying what about who, but the second and third times I really enjoyed it and I think I'm a little obsessed with it. I think now that we're past all the first episode exposition the tone will even out.
posted by bleep at 4:40 PM on April 28, 2019


> One question I have is that if she weren't a historically groundbreaking lesbian character could you consider her a villain - scrupulously collecting rent from poor tenants, turning her farmland into a coal production mine, and looking to groom a young and naive heiress?

I'm not ignoring the systemic disenfranchisement on which a classist hierarchy runs, but these things all strike me as standard business dealings, not examples of her personal villainy. (Yes, even including marriage.)
posted by desuetude at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


And I mean Miss Walker could not possibly be more into this. What's wrong with starting a relationship with someone?
posted by bleep at 10:34 AM on May 2, 2019


What I’ve heard of Lister previously she was a complete arsehole, so I’m a little wary while watching this but enjoying it all the same.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 1:54 AM on May 7, 2019


I had no idea who Anne Lister was but we were scrolling through BBC iPlayer and I saw a promo tile with period costume! Woman dressed as man!
“What is this? Let’s please watch 15 mins of it.”

Watched the whole thing. Suranne is a terrific actress! I love the characterisation she’s portraying who I find utterly charismatic. As I put it to my husband “I would totally let her call on me.”

And her purposeful strut! I love it and I’m determined to develop one of my own when I return to work after maternity leave.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.
posted by like_neon at 2:35 AM on May 25, 2019


Yeah, it felt like they were going for very arch wall-breaking when Anne looked directly at the camera early on, and with the voiceover about seducing Miss Walker at the end

I assumed these monologues were excerpts from the real Anne Lister’s diaries, though I haven’t checked to see if this is true.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:56 PM on November 24, 2019


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