This is another fascinating TV series that I am compelled to introduce to my readership. HBO has finally realized what PBS knew for a long time: well produced costume drama British TV series can be very popular in America too! They are now starting to co-produced Brit TV series in order to bring them over this side of the Atlantic, but their choice of titles is more edgy or controversial than what PBS is doing. And I am very grateful for that.
Gentleman Jack tells the story of Anne Lister, a landowner and industrialist from Halifax, West Yorkshire. She is known for being the first well-documented “modern lesbian”, as she left coded diaries chronicling in details her daily life, including her romantic relationships and the workings of her Shibden Hall estate and business. Set in 1832, the series mostly tells about her venture in coal mining and her relationship with Ann Walker. It started mainly for the challenge of the conquest and partly for financial interest, but she quickly becomes quite fond of the wealthy heiress. First, I was shocked by how she was planning to win her affection, but I quickly realized that if a man would have been doing the same thing it would have appeared totally normal!
The acting is excellent (Lister is played by Suranne Jones and Walker by Sophie Rundle) and the story (created by Sally Wainwright) is well written and quite funny. The series is interesting not only because it displays the beautiful English countryside and makes us discover the eccentricity, boldness and modernity of Anne Lister, but above all because it opens a window on the way of life of the English country folks and small nobility at a time when everything is about the change.
Gentleman Jack is an excellent historical drama that deserves your attention. It was well received by the critics (with ratings of 8.0 on IMDb and of 87% / 93% on Rotten Tomatoes). The first eight-episode season just ended, but it is still streaming on HBO. A second season has already been announced. I can’t wait to hear again the ending credits’ catchy tune by O’Hooley & Tidow!
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