Welcome back to Sanditon weekly, darlings, I hope you’ve got a cup of tea in hand because episode three is a bumpy, jaw dropping ride full of some exquisite tenderness, and the beginning of compelling sincerity. The third episode takes all that was set up last week and touches on the emotional echos of our decisions, where there’s an absolute lack of gratitude at the beginning of the episode, by the end, most characters are taking steps in the right direction. Sort of. Sanditon’s third episode focuses on transparency and the importance of seeing what’s right in front of us as opposed to consistently looking ahead towards something better. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking ahead, persevering or aiming towards a brighter future, the inability to be grateful in the midst of the chase is what often gets people into trouble. It’s also an episode that focuses on patience with a grace that’s to be admired because it’s continuing to take already complex characters and layering (some of) them with the awareness to try a little bit harder.
Sanditon’s third episode dives into the lives of the Denhams in a riveting manner, allowing us to see the fact that Esther and Clara, foils of one another, both serve such an infectious purpose to the series’ thrilling plot. Whoever said period dramas were slow and boring might want to rethink those beliefs after this episode, because the lives of the deliciously crazy is anything but boring. There’s tremendous anger in both Esther and Clara, one more than the other understandably due to the terrors they’ve faced off screen, but the opposite approaches they’ve taken in the face of dealing with the rage is what’s so fascinating about the two of them. Sometimes, anger in a woman is so deeply engulfing, there’s no turning back, other times, it’s cobbled so closely with a sadness that it’s possible to choose the more honorable route. Sanditon is a series that tells us what we need to know without ripping the rug from underneath us, and that’s why when Clara says: “You have no idea what I endured before I came here, and you have no idea what I’m prepared to do to ensure I stay”, we need to believe that she isn’t afraid of crossing the necessary lines to gain sympathy. (I mean for Christ’s sake, the girl gave herself a massive second degree burn!) Burns are painful, as someone who accidentally burns herself frequently at work because I work with a hot machine, I can vouch that it’s no child’s play. We don’t know how much Clara’s endured, I imagine there was a great amount of sexual assault and physical abuse involved that’s tragically forced her pain tolerance to increase, but the emotional trauma was undoubtedly far worse. I have a lot of sympathy towards Clara, no one deserves to go through any of the things we can assume she’s faced, but I’m also not one to condone villainous behavior when she’s standing in front of someone like Esther who’s trying so desperately to come out in a better light despite how little she’s showing it.
“Just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t make them any less important.”
“The world is hard on ambitious girls.”
I might never want to stop singing praises for this movie because I don’t know how long it’ll take to be this moved by something again as a woman. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic novel is this generation’s deepest treasure. I’ve never felt more seen by another female character as I did numerous times throughout the film by each of the March women. But for this article specifically, we’re here to celebrate our differences and to shine light on the universal truth, which is the fact that all our dreams are incomparably vital.
Dare I say, women are the most extraordinarily complex and remarkably rare beings to exist. There’s fire in even the quietest of souls for goodness as pure as Beth’s demands great patience. We’re driven by all that’s around us, moved by a myriad of spectacles and beautiful through it all. Louisa May Alcott’s characters are magic, each in their own unique way representing the kind of woman that’s perhaps in all of us. Gerwig’s adaptation has thus far been the strongest ode to the very complexities that are so acutely reflective of who we are today, while bringing forward a version of the book that feels so true to the story Alcott’s been telling from day one. In this version of Little Women, we’re given the chance to see each of the girls in a way past adaptations didn’t get to showcase, and in doing so, it’s given all those watching, the chance to see that there’s greatness in us all.
It is now 2020 and while immense progression has taken place towards achieving equality, in the midst of it shaming has also taken root. I’ve written about strong women a lot, and while I’m thankful for the opportunity to have such fierce representation in the form of female superheroes, public figures, and gifted beings, we’ve neglected the quieter side of women, which is the showcase of simpler lives. Little Women does that exquisitely by reiterating the fact that women aren’t just strong when they choose not to marry or when they can handle things by themselves, but that strength comes from the choices they make for themselves and the goodness they sprinkle into the world. Women are beautiful – they are complex masterful beings who deserve the chance to be exactly who they want to be and Little Women gives each of them the opportunity to do so in a film that holds its ground amongst darkness with remarkable ease and potency.
Whether it’s the nonchalance towards femininity or the welcoming of it. The desire for silk dresses or the desire for fairy wings. Little Women is a film that points fingers, thus making that much more reflective of organic sibling rivalries, but it doesn’t lose its footing in reminding viewers of the universal truth that we are all indescribably special and important. Women are allowed to change their minds, they’re allowed to grow and evolve. They’re allowed have moments consisting of deep vulnerability, pure sincerity, or utter chaotic perplexity. And these lessons are bold, in your face reminders, which have exceptionally resulted in profound, inspiring storytelling that’s bound to make a difference.
Little Women may be a classic story with a lot of adaptations, but it’s one of the few stories entirely deserving of its merit and rank amongst females. And Greta Gerwig’s version especially, is as close to perfect as it gets. I’ll go as far as stating that in my eyes, it is actually perfect. Gerwig’s adaptation and my first viewing of the film is something I’ll carry with me for as long as I live because I’ve never felt more seen or exposed than watching something in a room full of people. On multiple accounts it felt as though my innermost personal thoughts, the diary inside my head because I don’t actually carry a physical one was out there. And I’ve read the book, I’ve seen previous versions of the film, I’ve just never dived in head deep into the lives of the March women as I did today. Little Women stands the test of time over and over again because it’s a story that celebrates our differences alongside our strengths. I have quite a few pieces I want to write to celebrate this film and its mark on my life, but right now I want to scream about the importance of our goodness and the fact that it’s a choice every single day that’s often overlooked.
In times like this, I’m often reminded of the Book of Proverbs, chapter 31 where women are to be reminded of their irreplaceable place in the world. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (31:25) And my profound love for the chapter is due to its exquisite description of our strength, exhibiting that it isn’t mutually exclusive with always having it together, but remaining steadfast to kindness and sincerity even in the midst of our troubles.
Greta Gerwig touches on a part of Marmee that adaptations in the past haven’t presented as boldly, and it’s her statement that she’s “angry nearly every day of her life”, a line which Laura Dern brings to the forefront with such vehemence and vulnerability, I can’t stop thinking about it. Each of the March girls are incomparably relatable, but we and Hollywood especially, forget to acknowledge just how difficult it is not to let the sun go down on anger. We might be in a seemingly more progressive time where women have greater opportunities than they did in the 19th century, but it doesn’t change the fact that our fight is still great and the expectations riding on us are much higher. When a woman is angry, she’s told to calm down, but when a man’s rage turns him into a villain, it’s okay because society wronged him, broke him, and bullied him. Open any woman’s heart and there you’ll find countless rejections, deep cuts, bruises, and missing pieces that never heal and yet, the choice to consistently be caretakers, loving beings is thus overlooked. When women voice their concerns, it’s irrational, too petulant — it’s unimportant. We live in a world that focuses too much on the darknesses that breed villainy and not enough on the darknesses that fortify armor.
Sanditon’s second episode gives viewers plenty to sit with, good and bad — a jam packed hour full of some riveting moments that touch on the theme of class and judgement bitterly. It’s an episode full of some of the most cringeworthy statements along with some of the most relatable ones, but most exquisitely, it’s a testament to friendship, and Austen’s way of writing steadfast female friendships. If I were in charge of titling the episode, I’d call it “Paddling in the Sea”, for it’s best to describe the first steps into an astounding friendship and the exposure of Sidney Parker’s being, physically today and emotionally tomorrow. It’s an episode that does a remarkable job of shifting plates and allowing viewers to start seeing more sincerity in the characters. Thus finally, it’s an episode that spends a lot of its time discussing the panoramas of marriage and what it truly means to choose a partner.
To kick things off, these are the times I’m glad we no longer live in regency era because goodness every word out of Lady Denham’s mouth during the luncheon had me cringing so hard. (And I love period dramas immensely, but they’re just … so … white … and entitled.) But this is the very episode that lets us see into the hearts of those who matter most because Charlotte, Sidney, and Arthur all coming to Georgiana’s defense is the very showcase of how good natured their spirits are. Sidney’s especially which officially gives viewers a glimpse into his character’s true nature. He didn’t want to be Georgiana’s guardian, but let’s be real, not many would be in the right headspace to be anyone’s guardian during their mid-twenties. And while he grumbles about it, he doesn’t miss the opportunities to remind her of her value, something women in regency era, especially black women, aren’t reminded of as often as they should be. “You know you’re worth far more than Lady Denham and all her circle put together.” Sidney Parker might waste away his days at bars and boarding houses with smoke and self-deprecation clouding him, but at his core, he’s a man who’s fully aware of the strong women he’s surrounded by. It’s also a fantastic showcase of the fact that Charlotte was right in throwing him under the bus about being too cruel despite stating that he doesn’t care. “Think too badly of you? I don’t think of you at all Miss Heywood. I have no interest in your approval or disapproval. Quite simply, I don’t care what you think or how you feel. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but there it is.” And oh how badly this’ll bite him later on.
Welcome to the Sanditon weekly, darlings — grab a cup of tea and join our analytical discussion into the beautiful chaos inspired by Jane Austen’s unfinished novel of the same title. (These articles won’t cover the entire episode, viewers have already seen it, no one needs a retelling from another, instead, these reviews will break down the episode’s theme and character arcs and of course, there will be heaps of odes to romance.)
Sanditon’s first episode isn’t the strongest Pilot per say, but the sufficient glimpse we get into the lives of the auspiciously polite and the deliciously outrageous is a great start. It’s a pilot that promises ambitious choices, exhilarating surprises, and a much tastefully racier side to classic literature. It’s bold, it’s funny, and it’s downright beautiful in every way. But most importantly, it’s the opening to get to know our remarkable heroine in an episode full of some jaw dropping moments, gorgeous scenic shots, “abrupt and inattentive” love interests. Austen’s story’s often have common themes sprinkled throughout, and in the case of this untitled episode, let’s deem it “the one with all the telling”. In the first episode, we’re told a lot about the townspeople, and while normally I’d be opposed, in this case it works in foreshadowing a lot of what we’ll see in the upcoming season. The seeds planted in the beginning come to pass seamlessly in the finale and that’s the kind of writing I’m here to commend. When it comes to Sanditon, some will regret their stay while others will love every minute of it. It’s evident from the very beginning that there’s a long and winding road to the clifftops where magic will arise, and it gives viewers the chance to recognize that there’s going to be a lot of twists and turns before a happy ending is reached.