Sanditon on PBS, Ep. 2

Image result for sanditon episode 2

It’s the episode we’ve all been waiting for our whole lives in any TV series: it’s the “OMG, the pineapple is rotten and full of maggots” episode!

Yes, that was delightful, wasn’t it? What a symbolic moment. Something’s rotten in the seaside village of Sanditon. (See what I did there?) Could it be the step-siblings incest? Could it be Lady Denham’s, Sidney Parker’s, and Miss Denham’s bad attitudes? Could it be Miss Brereton’s horrific past–one that stinks of child molestation? Could it be the way Miss Lambe is a virtual slave? Could it be….so many more to name, but the show must go on!

Austen did not write about a lunch party with a rotten pineapple, in case you’re wondering. She did write about the money-hungry Lady D and expressed strongly the Denhams’ need to marry well. She did explain that Lady D had her sights set on Miss Lambe (in D’s eyes, Miss Moneybags). Austen did not broach the racial tension involved in the very white Edward Denham being coerced to woo the biracial Miss Lambe. Austen’s novel does not talk about slavery, either. But we know it’s in the subtext. It’s between the lines. It’s the elephant in the room.

So episode 2 did a good job of bringing to the surface things sublimated in Austen’s novel. Still, we don’t know where she would have gone with the potential match between Edward and Miss Lambe. Would it have turned out like the Woman of Color (1809, anonymous) where people make comments about Miss Lambe’s skin color? Would Miss Lambe have risen above the jeers, or would she have smarted off, like the PBS Georgiana did?

The Miss Lambe we find in the PBS version is much more suited for a modern audience, and that’s who’s watching the show, so it makes total sense. The scene with Georgiana speaking in a Caribbean dialect is fantastic. The scene where she throws a fit about going to the stupid luncheon in the first place is fitting. After all, she’s 17, and she knows she’s being objectified and commodified. The scene where she sits on the cliff crying suggests that she might kill herself, but that’s not necessarily the intention. However, from Charlotte’s perspective it seems to be.

All in all, I enjoyed the second episode a lot. Sidney is still acting like a jerk, but he gets to swim it off. Lady D is wonderfully horrid, but that’s her part to play. Very Catherine DeBourgh of her. Tom Parker and his wife are a delight. Charlotte is finding her footing in Sanditon, and we are all happy for her. Then there’s this architect who seems intriguing.

I was glad to see that Davies decided to mediate the weird sexual tension from the first episode by explaining that the Denhams are step-sibs. A little less ewwwww. The slut-shaming imposed on Clara is troubling, especially given the moment she remarks that Edward isn’t the first predator she’s known, and that her first encounter with one was at a young age.

Image result for rotten pineapple

So, let us get back to this rotten pineapple–the centerpiece of the luncheon, the supposed item to make Miss Lambe feel right at home. That is the PBS village of Sanditon–it’s showy, it’s a little hollow inside, it’s trying to be something it’s not. Oh, and you can’t eat it. 🙂

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