We are so sorry, Jane.

We watched the last episode of Sanditon last night, Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen and I.

We have a few issues.

Spoilers follow.


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.

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

17 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I so agree with all you wrote. The hair drove me crazy from the first.There were really no likable characters. Perhaps there is a good reason that Jane did not finish the book. It would have been better to let it lie.

  2. I was not amused and chose not to watch past the first installment. Let’s not forget the shoes! Goodness. Poor Jane was not treated well at all.

  3. I just wantto say agree with most of above. It is; however; not uncommon for a person in a coma to hear and remember evetything said around them. That is why you are always careful what you sayin their rooms. I am an ICU nurse with decades of experience.

    • There still needs to be a moment between Esther and Lady D. when Esther realizes Lady D. heard everything she said. That lack of it displays sloppy, slapdash writing. Too many people on this production were not paying attention, and they certainly weren’t paying Jane the proper amount of respect thereby. (She said in her best Lady de Bourgh tone.)

  4. To be fair, Sanditon is NOT a BBC production, it comes from ITV, a private owned British TV company. Not all British TVperiod dramas are from BBC, in fact, this is not the first time that ITV has commited an crime against Jane Austen, the 3 film adaptations (Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey) were also produced by ITV, as well as the Lost in Austen miniseries, so ITV’s record is quite muddied already to be trusted.

  5. Oh I couldn’t agree more! Have to admit we stopped watching half way through, couldn’t have cared less about any of those plastic people? Whoever wrote this (and Austen it most certainly wasn’t) needed a lesson not only in English history but in English Literature too – awful awful awful – as you pointed out, the glaring errors in costume, speech and even characterisation were so evident it was almost farce? Poor Jane? She must be turning in her grave at having this daft supposed “period drama” associated with her name …..

  6. Hear, hear, Ms Dana! Appallingly written and dismal storytelling. This is truly a grim portrayal of characters that should make you care for them, but instead can you to be indifferent to their death by a celestial fireball. Period inaccuracies of style and decorum abound, which would make Ms Austen not just turn in her grave, but rise to the surface in revolt. Why twist and contort a quality period story just to suit modern sensibilities, styles and mores when better left alone, as Ms Austen wrote it, as she lived and experienced it? Perhaps that is how far gone our society is today, confined to the rubbish bin, where this production belongs.

  7. In New York and was really hooked until I read how this ends and now I am so pissed. US hasn’t aired the last 2 episodes yet. I was hoping for some co-naked canoodling the surf, but no. Then I realized it might all be resolved in Season 2 only to read it has not been renewed, TRUE? Do Ester and Babbington end up together? TY

  8. Dana, Thank you for all your comments and for letting us vent on your blog! I watched the entire 8 episodes more or less (fell asleep during a few and couldn’t understand the mumbling accents of what used to be wonderful British acting a great deal of the time). About Episode 6, I was just beginning to think that I could stand looking at “Charlotte Heywood” for another two episodes, if in fact she was to finally find love. Then last night came and went – what a disaster in writing, production and acting. The whole season should be confined to the dustbin of bad TV or as they say in Britain “Telly” (I’m writing this from Florida, having watched the series via PBS Network’s “Masterpiece” Theatre.) When Sydney rode up on his steed to stop Charlotte’s fleeing coach and to give her another wet apology, it was the perfect moment for her to either slap him in the well-deserved face and/or tell him to go to hell. She could then have held her head up and turned and walked away and we could have delighted in his stricken facade. Instead, we had to look yet again at her wet eyes and quivery chin – but at least she finally had her bonnet on! The great Jane Austen deserves so much better than this piece of poo; and, sadly the “great” Andrew Davies has fallen way off his pedestal!

  9. Young Mr. Stringer was a thoroughly decent man and the equivalent, I thought, of the principled clergyman (Edward in Mansfield Park) or sea captain (Persuasion) who ended as successful suitors in at least two of Jane’s novels. I was hoping the series would turn in that direction! I could deal with the period anachronisms, but just couldn’t stomach the ending. Sydney becomes a Willoughby, committing to a loveless marriage to an heiress for her money, and Charlotte still loves him. Gah.

    • Just a comment on Lady D’s remembering what Esther said to her while she in the coma. It was obvious by Esther’s stunned look when Lady D was reading Edward and Clara the riot act that did in fact realize that Lady D had heard and understood her. As for Sidney and Charlotte, does anyone really believe he would have been so anxious to pick up where they left off in the first place? She kicked him to the curb 10 years earlier. Don’t think he’d go running back like a whipped dog.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree! I looked at all the positive reviews before watching this and cannot fathom where they came from. I couldn’t make it halfway through the show. All the main characters were so unlikable, and not in the wonderfully flawed, Vanity Fair type of way. Charlotte’s entire character consisted of making faces at whatever was happening, and all the sexy scenes were so un-Austen like and unnecessary. And what’s with the added incestuous element? I was also disappointed with the historical inaccuracies, given that the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice Davies adaptation was by comparison much more historically accurate.

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