We watched the last episode of Sanditon last night, Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen and I.
We have a few issues.
First of all*, what’s with all the period detail inaccuracies? To mention just a few: What’s with Charlotte wearing her hair down all time, instead of pinned up as befits a lady out of short petticoats? What’s with Charlotte wearing colors before she is married? For that matter, what is up with Charlotte’s incredibly expanding wardrobe, averaging one new dress and/or hat per scene? She’s a poor farmer’s daughter and the family she is living with is bankrupt. Is Sidney secretly paying for her clothes? Which would lend a whole new meaning to their relationship.
N.B.: Allow us to recommend to the showrunners a remedial course in Georgette Heyer before you write what is obviously going to be a Season Two. Might help if you read a little Jane Austen, too.
Speaking of paying for things, let’s discuss economic realities. What was Tom’s business model? Was he going to recoup all of his money, all of Lady Denham’s money, the £3000 Sidney loaned him, and the £80,000 (!) Sidney’s marrying into by selling the flats in his terrace? I don’t know what flats in Sanditon were going for but there would have to have been one hell of a lot of them to retire that amount of debt, never mind return a profit. And if Tom never intended to pay anyone back? He’s running a real estate scam.
By the way, how did we jump from Tom needing £3,000 to £80,000? Is Eliza really worth over $7 million in today’s dollars? Is she worth more, because even Sidney can’t imagine she’ll give him every last dime she has just so he’ll marry her. How soon after the wedding is Sidney going to ask her for the money? Awkward. And why on earth would Eliza still want to marry Sidney, when he is obviously in love with someone else?
For that matter, why would Eliza want to marry anyone? She is a wealthy widow in charge of her own money and property, the best situation any woman of that time could be in. Why would she want to give that up? Vide Lady Denham.
And speaking of Lady Denham, why wouldn’t she leave her will with her solicitor? How did Clara know where it was? (Where, in fact, was it?)
Why didn’t Lady Denham ask to see an insurance certificate before loaning Tom the money? Why didn’t Sidney?
How did Sidney make his money, anyway? He was in Antigua for ten years. They grew sugar there, with slave labor. So he spent ten years making his fortune out of slavery, then suffered a convenient, post-fortune crisis of conscience, and now is against it? What a guy.
Esther spills the beans to Lady Denham, who is in a coma. A scene later Lady D. bounces back and disowns Edward and Clara for their bad behavior. When, exactly, did she wake up to hear what Esther had to say? All Lady D. had to do was open her eyes on camera while Esther was unloading. Massive fail in continuity, not to mention plain bad storytelling, of which Jane Austen was never guilty. She didn’t write fairy tales, either, especially not bad ones.
Clara trusts Edward to keep the deal. Edward trusts Clara to keep her side of the bargain. Esther believes Clara when Clara tells her she slept with Edward. Lady D. believes every word Esther says. All this despite direct evidence accumulated over the previous six episodes that none of them is to be trusted or believed for a New York second.
By the end of episode 8, Tom has revealed himself to be utterly selfish and a complete idiot, if not outright criminal. His wife has to support him because she and their three kids will be out on the street if she leaves him. Sidney martyrs himself on the altar of rescuing a totally unworthy brother. Arthur and the sister (did she even have a name?) go home to toast bread by their own fire. Charlotte heads back to the farm to read books.
We decided that the only two people who were not involved in Tom’s real estate scam were Esther and Lord Babington, and that they are the only two who had a happy ending because they are the only two who deserve one.
Meanwhile, what happened to Georgiana? Where is Otis? What poor woman will Edward seduce and sucker next? What’s going to happen to Clara, cast off without a shilling? Who the hell is Lady Susan, and why does she like Charlotte so much, especially since Charlotte is played by an actress whose entire professional repertoire consists of a deer-in-the-headlights stare and a perpetually wrinkled brow?
Season 2 will definitely be a hate watch.
In the meantime, Jane, our sincere apologies for what those lazy writers did to your last work. We return now to Persuasion to soothe ourselves with your far superior prose, plotting, and characterization, not to mention logic. Thank you.
*See Cinthia’s comment below. We were trashing the wrong television network.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.