Gentleman Jack, the groundbreaking and at times hilarious lesbian period drama, has finally aired the last episode of season one over here in the UK. While we are all still reaching for the tissues and counting down furiously researching the release dates of season two, I thought it was time to give an overview and a breakdown of the show for everyone who misses it and all those who have yet to experience its joy!Check out this review of 'Gentleman Jack' by lesbian writer, Niamh Murphy Click To Tweet
Cast And Crew:
Female Lead? ✔️
Yes! Suranne Jones is magnificent as the indomitable Anne Lister and she is surrounded by a swathe of fantastic supporting actors including Sophie Rundle, Gemma Whelan, and Gemma Jones.
Female Writer? ✔️
Absolutely. Not only is the series based on the secret diaries written by Anne Lister herself, but the show is also the twenty-year passion project of Sally Wainwright, creator of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’.
Female Director? ✔️
As well as Sally Wainwright directing, we also get Sarah Harding best known for ‘Queer As Folk’, and Jennifer Perrott who has most recently been directing Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who.
It’s 1832 in West Yorkshire, England — the cradle of the evolving Industrial Revolution — where landowner Anne Lister is determined to save her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, even if it means bucking society’s expectations. In addition to reopening the coal mines, a part of Lister’s plan to help her family is to marry well. But the charismatic, single-minded Lister — who dresses head-to-toe in black and charms her way into high society — has no intention of marrying a man. “Gentleman Jack” examines Lister’s relationships with her family, servants, tenants and industrial rivals, and would-be wife. The real-life Anne Lister’s story was recorded in her diaries, and the most intimate details of her life are revealed for the series.
We’ve come a very long way from a few nudges and winks in Xena: Warrior Princess haven’t we?
I have so many passionately profound thoughts on this show that I’m not certain I could share them all with you in a lifetime. Suffice to say, I finally feel as though I am beginning to see myself represented in media. The love story between Anne and Ann feels painfully and wonderfully familiar. After all these years of watching incredulously as people were driven into a frenzy over films like The Bodyguard and Titanic I can finally say: ‘oh yeah, I get it’.
As well as being a heartfelt romance, there was a genuinely riveting plot about coal mining (of all things!?), a murder involving a pack of pigs, and laugh-out-loud moments of pure comedy gold. Holiday thermometer anyone?
What the Critics are saying: ★★★★✰
Suranne Jones gives a performance worthy of Anne Lister’s legacy, while the rest of “Gentleman Jack” endeavors to keep up.Ben Travers – IndieWire
The new HBO drama depicts a bold, groundbreaking 19th-century lesbian. But its palatable tone falsely suggests that few obstacles were in her way.SOPHIE GILBERT – The Atlantic
BBC One’s Gentleman Jack is sexy, lively and huge fun. Sally Wainwright’s story of a Victorian lesbian making Fleabag-style asides to camera is vividly alive.Rachel Cooke – NewStatesman
What the audience is saying: ★★★★★
“One of the most amazing and groundbreaking series of the TV” – Rotten Tomatoes
Are there Lesbians? ✔️
Absolutely! Although the character of Anne Lister is the only one of them who truly embraces who she is, there are several characters who would identify as bisexual, pansexual, or lesbian today.
Does the Lesbian Live to the end? ✔️
There is honestly a rocky road to get there, that is not without trauma. But yup, they make it to the end of the show.
Does she get the girl? ✔️
Anyone who has looked into the story of the real Anne Lister knows that she did in fact marry the lovely Ann Walker, and although the did make it that far (at least not in season one) they did end up happy together.
You’ll like this movie if you like:
A few other people are comparing this to other historical pieces such as Tipping The Velvet, however despite being set in 1830ish this show feels thoroughly and rambunctiously modern and I think comparisons with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag are more on point. Sidenote: Waller-Bridge is also the writer on Killing Eve.
Overall: Would ABSOLUTELY recommend
No ‘ifs’ no ‘buts’ this is a strong and definite recommend.
If you liked this, then you should definitely check out my review of Carol.
About Niamh Murphy
Hi there! I’m Niamh Murphy and I’m a bestselling author of adventure books with lesbian main characters!
I tell romantic and exciting stories of gripping adventure and epic fantasy. My favourite places to explore are historical settings, science fiction landscapes, and fantasy worlds. My stories involve exciting characters such as knights, pirates, vampires, and mermaids. But I also tell more down-to-earth stories involving teenage angst, coming out, and exploring lesbian relationships for the first time.
I most enjoy rewriting fairy tales for the modern reader or re-telling mythical stories of old with a sapphic twist. But whatever the genre I choose to write in, my stories always include romance, love, and a lesbian main character.