Gentleman Jack: Are You Still Talking?   Books Included 
June 10, 2019 8:17 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Season One Finale. Difficult news from Shibden spurs Lister to leave behind her new lifestyle in Denmark.
posted by oh yeah! (5 comments total)
FOREWARNING my comments may include from IRL history, previous eps or speculation on future eps based, again, on IRL history.

Welp, I can safely say that I've never seen anything like that on television or on film before.
I really can't separate my opinion on this as a plain old telly show from my viewing as a queer viewer, and I don't intend to try. I gather though that the setting and clothing and framing and cinematography and colouring is, objectively, wonderful. There's so many still that could just be hung as paintings, mrs C with the rabbits, Anne poised to shoot the horse, them both in bed with the light falling on them and so on. But yeah, the gaze is so explicitly lesbian that I don't know what to do with myself. The body language, glances cast over shoulders before touching, where the camera falls, a lot of specific things with regards to the love scenes, etc. The dialog is also ridiculously true and right in 2019 despite being, in many cases, the exact words written 200 years ago by a woman who felt like me. Mind. Blown.

I think CE in the Vulture links makes a good point about how while there have been shows about ensembles (The L Word really I guess is what she means) and shows with wlw characters (like Buffy or Grey's Anatomy) this is the first show about a specific lesbian woman and also quite specifically about her being a lesbian. It's pretty much her defining trait, no matter how much of an industrialist and a gentryperson and whatever she also was.

Anyhow, to the ep! I loved all of it, apart from the stressful part where I couldn't work out if they were dancing the same way as the others or some sort of mad hoppy dance of their own. I loved pushy Queen of Denmark and was dying for Anne at having curtsied to the lady in waiting instead of the Queen (something she actually did). I can't imagine the misery of travelling for two solid weeks by coach and boat and am not surprised she was fit to scream by the time Ann came upon her. My heart broke into about 600 pieces when she asked Ann not to hurt her, that she wasn't as strong as she seemed (callbacks to the previous scenes where people treat her like she has no feelings because of her brusqueness) and again, a plea that could be plucked from a thousand young and not so young women today. And then, the kiss, and the story wasn't over, it continued! But yeah, giant kiss, out in the open, with the sweeping landscape and the sky above them, it's me, Cathy come home, and all that. Loved it. Also loved the bittersweet cutting between Sowden's wedding and the Ann(e)'s, I think it was well done. I loved Ann smiling and Anne being super serious, and that almost touch of pinkies in place of "you may kiss the bride". I loved how they went from 0 to full on wifely bickering (put away that watch) in .25 seconds.

I am very wary about season two [SPECULATION AHEAD], I mean I want so much more of this story, of Anne's story specifically, but I don't know what's feasible. The fact of the matter is that their story doesn't end particularly happily every after, although normally so perhaps for a georgian marriage; they were happily newlyweds for a couple of years and travelled, but they bickered a lot and disagreed about money and suffered from the changing times; Anne tried to influence her tennants votes, there was some scandal in the newspapers after they married, etc, things I think, along with the mine and the murder could be some meat of season two, but I kind of hope not. Anne was dead within eight years and Ann ended up in an institution at the hands of her relatives. I really don't want to follow that path with them. I think I'd prefer a little light local trouble and their travel in the first year or so of their marriage and perhaps some more flashbacks to Anne's wilder days (that time she bedded all three Belcome sisters in the one night!). There's also some good milage to be gotten from the fact that Mariana came to visit and tried to put the moves on Anne but got the cold shoulder.

There's a half joke on the internet about this show saying "is this what it's like for straight people all the time"? And I am genuinely curious for any straight folks in the thread, is this what Grey's Anatomy is like for you? Do two people of the opposite sex standing a little too close or exchanging a glance give you butterflies in your stomach or are you jaded (for want of a better word) so that it's much of a muchness? Hope that's not a rude question, but I've been so curious.

Some good reading on Anne (and Ann) here at BBC.
posted by Iteki at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2019

When she changed to the blue jacket at the end with that gorgeous waistcoat, it was so much joy, especially after what she had said to the Queen, something true about mourning colours and how she held herself at a remove and then that explosion of beautiful soft colour.

I hadn't thought that much of her taking communion as the whole vows in place given that the exchange of rings and her family's own blessing seems at first more important but the scene intercut with the other public wedding, and the sense of ceremony and the depth of feeling in that scene when they took communion together as a blessing - I just burst into happy sobs.

I really didn't warm to Anne in the first 2 or 3 episodes because she seemed to not care much about Ann's feelings so much as a diversion from her own grief, but the more the episodes unfolded, the clearer it became that she is unwillingly self-guarded, someone fiercely tender of those she loves. I like the way the show has chosen to go - it feels so deeply romantic - but because it's based on a real person's life rather than whole cloth, I wonder what changes they will need to make to have her be more muddled grey and less romantic hero. With Ann's future - let it go somewhere imagined and happier.

Also Marian should get to shag the new footman.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:41 AM on June 12, 2019

In an article for British press a couple days ago, Sally Wainwright stated that what she would like is to take it to Anne's death and that it was going to be dark as there were difficulties in the marriage from the start. Until that linked BBC piece, I didn't realize how quickly the end comes. I don't know how much of a say Wainwright gets or how fanciful any interpretation gets to be but it feels lucky it became as frankly romantic as it is so far. I was surprised at how quickly it turned from acceptably entertaining into my genuine affection for it, so now as is the natural course of things, I am worried for them.
posted by provoliminal at 12:49 AM on July 16, 2019

I hear you. I really am not sure I want a second season, especially a dead lesbian season. That we got this is just perfect. If I had my druthers the second season would begin with her death and weave it’s way with poor Ann and her body back though Europe and time (flashbacks to their travels and earlier times in their marriage) and ending with that same kiss on the hilltop. Fight me.
posted by Iteki at 8:59 AM on July 24, 2019

I just binged the series over a week and Iteki, your first comment especially rang so incredibly true to me. I felt breathless the whole time I was watching, because it was finally a story that I felt, in a way I rarely ever get to see. It's overwhelming, what story has been told, and I'm trying to sit in the glow of their joy and cute bickering and kisses and the plaque that is now outside of a church in York, marking the place where Anne and Ann took communion together, because they were real and they lived and it wasn't always good, but once they loved each other so much they got married.

I'm also sort of scared of the future; they didn't have very long together, and neither of them had happy lives. But I also love the complexity of that. Not that grimdark == real, exactly, because it doesn't, but Lister was complex and complicated, both lovable and really not very likeable at all. And I want to see that story too, because Suranne Jones inhabits her so effortlessly. I will say I trust Sally Wainwright a long ways; following the show's instagram page, it's so clear that this show means a lot to everyone involved in it. It's comforting, to know it's loved. And the actresses too -- apparently the kiss in the carriage and I think the one on the hilltop weren't actually scripted, but they were true as hell to the characters. But yeah, I'm dreading the short, sharp, painful end to their story.

Anyway. That is my half-coherent addition to a post that's over a year old, because Anne Lister has taken up just that much room in my head.
posted by kalimac at 8:46 PM on November 20, 2020

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