2019 Year-End Reviews: Romantic Relationships

In the words of Louisa May Alcott: “Love is a great beautifier.” Whether it’s platonic or romantic, the love we share with others plays a vast role in making us better humans. Some of the couples on this list were tragically set for an unhappy ending, but that doesn’t change the fact that what’s happened between them is still moving and magnanimous. The stories were healing, beautifully sincere, and some of the best written romantic arcs I’ve seen in a while.

1. Sidney Parker and Charlotte Heywood
Sanditon

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The slow progression of this stunning relationship is the kind of romance dreams are made of, and with further progression, I’m almost certain they might become my favorite Austen couple. (No one tell Emma and Knightley.) There’s so much I could say about Sidney and Charlotte, and the unyielding, beautifully touching love they have for one another. There’s something so achingly immaculate about a man whose heart was shattered and darkened opening up to a woman whose innocence brought him back to life. Sidney wasn’t unkind out of malicious intent, but because the cruelty and rejection he faced stripped him bare and broke him at his core, it took the parts of him that felt entirely too much and instead awakened an anger in him. The past took no pity on him, and as a result, his instincts resulted in, attack first, explain later because that’s easier than to unveiling his heart and risking pain all over again. Then, in came a woman with an innocence that tore him to shreds not because she’d broken him further, but because she’d taken the parts of him that had been darkened and restored light into them. A restoration that took time because the severity of the damages done were viscous, and an awakening that opened up parts of him no other human had ever gotten close to. That’s why “I’ve never wanted to put myself in someone else’s before” is so profoundly poignant as a declaration because it bares him more than the afternoon at the coves ever did. It’s Sidney Parker at his most vulnerable, promising that in spite of what lies ahead, the all-consuming adoration Charlotte’s awakened in him will be the governing force behind his every act.

Charlotte doesn’t get to tell him just how much she adores him, but we know as viewers that his flawed, incomparably quiet tenderness is something she’s completely grateful for. He challenges her ideals, breaks down her walls, and most importantly, he listens to her. He respects and values her good opinion, and in the same way, she values his. When given the chance, she’d do anything in her power, go above and beyond just to adore him. If the events of the finale indicate one thing, it’s that both Charlotte and Sidney have never known pain greater than the parting they faced. She’d never be so selfish to tell him to stay and inspired by her scolding, he’s doing the very thing she once told him, too. (Look after his family.) They’re each other’s everything. (I think about Sidney’s inability to respond to Charlotte’s: “Is that all that I am to you? A source of amusement?” To which it’s so clear, he wants to say that she’s in fact, everything. It’s written all over his face and it’s heard in his breathless stutter.) Come what may they’ll find their way back to each other, anchored at sea is their unceasing love for one another that’s stronger and deeper than anything they’ll ever experience, and a love like that withstands all sorts of trials.

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This Week’s Most Exquisite TV Moment

October 13-19
“Episode 8” | Sanditon

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We’re officially back in business with fall TV and so far, everything’s been utterly pleasing where this writer is concerned, but this week especially, I have not stopped thinking of the Sanditon finale since it’s aired and I’ve only rewatched it about 12 more times after that. (More, it’s definitely been more.)

First and foremost, I need you all to know that period dramas own my soul. That said, the slow but worthwhile progression of a Jane Austen love story is my absolute favorite because when it finally comes down to conversations between the pair we’re rooting for, it’s worth every pining moment — every dramatic event. There are plenty of moments throughout Sanditon’s finale that tug on the heartstrings, but I’m thinking blissfully about Sidney and Charlotte’s conversation on the balcony. And dare I say this might just be my favorite declaration after Mr. Knightley’s “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

“I have never wanted to put myself in someone else’s power before. I have never wanted to care for anyone but myself.” is as profound a declaration of love as the three official words could say. If this is just the first season, I can’t even imagine what will follow, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not ready for the emotions it’ll put me through it. (Just kidding, I’m 364% ready. Bring it. Give me season two stat.) There’s a great deal to be said about the bravery the affirmation conveys because such vulnerability coming from a man as jaded as Sidney promises far more than any ring ever could. And that’s essentially what makes me so hopeful for what’s to come. While words without actions can be insignificant, there’s still great prominence when the choice to be unreservedly sincere is coming from a man who’d long before promised never to love again. Sidney Parker, detached, damaged, despondent, made the conscious choice to give love one more try because the woman who stands before him brought a sense of indescribable purity back into his life — innocence and eagerness. The yearning to live beyond his needs in order to ensure that the best version of himself is worthy of her time and adoration. Any and all declarations take courage, there’s no questioning that, but it’s what he means that screams beyond the words he speaks. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Charlotte, no ocean he wouldn’t cross, no deal he wouldn’t make, no place he wouldn’t go. At the end of the day, it’s all for her. It’s all for her because his sole ability to love again is entirely due to her goodness, her innate curiosity, and the fearlessness in which she alone challenges him with.

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