Here are some of the many highlights of our favourite queer period drama
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY BBC/LOOKOUT POINT/HBO/AIMEE SPINKS
This bank holiday weekend was glorious, but as the clock struck nine on Sunday evening, I truly felt the absence of Gentleman Jack. Ever since the finale aired I’ve been refreshing my feed, hoping to rejoice at the sight of a renewal announcement. In our April issue, when asked how long she’d like the show to go on for, creator Sally Wainwright commented that its dependent on viewing figures and reviews before stating that: “My biggest dream would be to dramatise right up to her death, and possibly slightly beyond.” PLEASE can we make this happen. In order to calm my obsession, join me in looking back on some of the best moments of this latest depiction of the life of Anne Lister.
Warning: Spoilers for season one and two of Gentleman Jack ahead.
The “butch walk”
Throughout the second season Anne Lister was ramping up her already ambitious entrepreneurial pursuits so that she could build a future with her wife. We’d already fallen in love with Suranne Jones’ iconic “butch walk” across Halifax in the first season, however by the debut of this instalment, fans flocked to social media to express how they felt exhausted on Anne’s behalf following long shots of her striding through the town.
Getting to meet Tib
In the second episode, we got to meet Anne’s outrageous former lover, Tib (Joanna Scanlan), whilst the two Ann(e)s were off on their romantic trip to France. Tib strolls into the room after being “on the sauce” and continues to eye women from behind and comments on Lister’s past with Mariana Lawton. Not only does this add to some of the insecurities in the newlywed’s relationship, but it also foreshadows some of the tensions that take place later in the season. Through Tib’s introduction to the cast, we also later get to learn more about Anne’s upbringing and her relationship with her parents. We need more Tib in season three please!
Mariana’s side of the story
Whilst it was heartbreaking to see Anne be unfaithful to her wife when she slept with Mariana (Lydia Leonard), the show superbly handled the portrayal of the complicated tensions between these two ex-lovers and the troubles Mariana faced living in the time that she did. In the fourth episode we finally got to hear Mariana’s side of the story.
Ann Walker finding her voice
Whilst the recovery of her mental wellbeing was not linear, I loved seeing how Sophie Rundle portrayed Ann’s growth this season. After a lifetime of being belittled and infantilised, she started to find her voice. And she used it to speak up against her relatives (and Anne), as well as to reject an unwanted marriage proposal and to give a well received speech to the town. I can’t wait to see how the show continues to explore her arc.
Anne’s gun wielding
Fans will remember that time in season one when Anne put down a sickly horse with one shot. Which proved to all Shibden residents that she is not one to be messed with. Which made it all the more amusing when after there is a conflict within the home, and Anne tries to come across as less intimidating to the maids, she does so with a gun in her hand, making everyone understandably nervous. The reason behind the impact this has on those around her seems to go over Anne’s head.
Marian breaking the fourth wall
Gemma Whelan’s portrayal of Anne’s little sister, Marian, is one of my favourite parts of this show. Whether it’s the way she breaks the fourth wall, reacts to the absurdities taking place around her or letting out frustrations of living in the shadow of her WLW icon of an older sister, she’s always a delight to watch. This season the two sisters appear to have a stronger relationship, that is until Marian plans to marry someone Anne doesn’t approve of. The repercussions of the “prank” wedding announcement in the papers about the two Ann(e)s adds further tension as Abbott calls off the wedding, not wanting to associate with Marian, fearing what people may say.
Taking on teaching
Ann’s plans to divide the estate comes with many consequences, one of those being that the school run by Ann’s relatives, the Priestleys, needs to be vacated. This means that the two Ann(e)s and Washington must temporarily take on the roles of teachers until they can find a proper master to take over. Not only does this allow us to get to see Ann stifle a chuckle as one of the students swears under her breath, but we also get to see the foreshadowing of more conflicts that could take place in a third season. In an earlier episode, Eliza and Henry witnessed a not-so-secret kiss between the newlyweds and we see Eliza begin to spread this gossip to her peers. We’re anxious to see what comes of it.
These are just some of the many reasons why this season was exceptional and why we *need* a third instalment. Sally Wainwright has continued to provide viewers with a serving of queer history in a way that empowers us to walk with our heads held high. The two Ann(e)s overcame a lot this season and there’s still many questions that need answering such as, who exactly leaked the wedding announcement to the papers? As Anne tells her wife in the final scene: “We are the only people in the whole world, on earth, who want us to be together. It won’t be easy, it’ll never be easy, but we’re both still here, aren’t we?” I’m eager to see how these two women continue to rise above it together.
Rest assured, once we know if we’ll get to be reunited with this show for a third season, we’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.
✨ linktr.ee/divamagazine ✨