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Gentleman Jack

Updated: May 28, 2020

So I recently finished watching Gentleman Jack...I know, I’m VERY late. A number of people recommended it to me but I don’t know why I didn’t watch it. How wrong I was!

Gentleman Jack is co-produced by the BBC and HBO. It is a period drama yet features elements that are very modern, relevant especially now. So Gentleman Jack is a story about Anne Lister who was an actual person in the 19th century. The series was based on her diary, which was written in code. People cracked the code and found out very explicit content of her life, and her affairs with women. Anne Lister was, pretty much everything you didn’t expect a woman would be like 200 years ago. You know, when women weren’t allowed to have opinions, shouldn’t be running business, should just get married. But Anne Lister didn’t give a shit. She dressed like a man (hence, gentleman), she started her own business, she was a land owner, she liked whoever she liked, namely women (hence, Jack. The word lesbian didn’t even exist at that time). In the modern world we say dress however you please, love whoever you love, and Anne Lister was already doing it bloody 200 years ago! Even now not everyone is accepting, let alone her time. She really was one of a kind.

Her story was not only inspiring but very much needed on screen. I had the pleasure to have a master class with Gentleman Jack’s creator / writer / director Sally Wainwright. She wanted to tell the story of Anne Lister for a long time as she grew up in Halifax too, and Anne Lister’s story is a bit of a dirt but it shouldn’t be. Thank god for Sally Wainwright, cos a lot of people didn’t know about the story of Anne Lister. I think it’s such an important story to be told. She wanted to do the story right (needed more budget) so she went to America and pitched to HBO, and HBO said yes right away.

I’ve said a lot about Anne Lister but I think it’s also very important to talk about her love interest, Ann Walker. Her story was soooo relevant today as she suffered from anxiety, depression. Mental illness is such a taboo even now, not to mention 200 years ago when no one knew what’s going on in our brains. It’s not like a wound that you can see physically. Also there’s some MeToo elements in it which are absolutely on point. I know everyone loves Suranne Jones who did a brilliant job playing Anne Lister, and I absolutely agree. However, I also want to praise Sophie Rundle’s performance, and her character. Of course Anne Lister is inspiring but Ann Walker too? She’s not like Anne Lister who’s charismatic, confident, clever, and ahead of her time. Ann Walker is more like all the other women at her time, conservative. Yet, she decided to be on board and be with Anne Lister. How courageous.

Okay I know I am going on and on about it so much but I just love the show, and the Ann(e)s had my emotions going up and down. It’s just brilliant writing! And tbh with all these issues being so relevant I feel like human really didn’t progress much did we? We’re still facing the same problems after 200 years. Season 2 is still in production and it’s postponed because of bloody coronavirus. Hope all will be resolved soon because we need more Ann(e)s!! Also because we hate coronavirus and hate people dying from it.

By the way, why are all the good lesbian films/TV are all period ones? What’s with the modern lesbians??

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