The second season of Gentleman Jack asks what after the happy ending?
If season one gave us the happy ending, season 2 is the exploration of what comes next. It is the exploration of marriage like we have not seen for any queer couple on television before. Yes, Anne and Miss Walker have made promises to each other, but that doesn’t mean it is all happy from there.
Set in Yorkshire, 1834, Gentleman Jack follows Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) and Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) as they set up home together at Shibden Hall as wife and wife, determined to combine their estates and become a power couple. Anne Lister’s entrepreneurial spirit frightens the locals as much as her unconventional love life. With Halifax on the brink of revolution, her refusal to keep a low profile becomes provocative and dangerous.
What makes Gentleman Jack so unique is how unapologetically queer it is. There is never a moment where the show shies away from the central relationship. This show explores the marriage between Anne and Ann and the trial and tribulations of it all.
It is a breath of fresh air to watch; even when the show is sad and showcases the problems between them, there is something so refreshing to watch. It is usually reserved for straight couples, queer couples barely ever get that treatment, but Gentleman Jack does precisely that. It gives us the treatment we never got.
Like the first season, the standout remains Suranne Jones as Anne Lister. Jones disappears in the role, and she becomes Anne Lister. This season, she gets to do a lot, portraying Lister’s incapability to balance herself. The season is very much based on Anne’s relationship with Miss Walker and Marianna Lawton (Lydia Leonard).
Much of the show is based on Anne Lister’s real life, her journals that she kept during her lifetime, and while the play dramatizes it for television, it is very much the story of Anne Lister. Mariana Lawton might not have been crucial during the first season, but she has a central role in this one. Her relationship with Anne Lister shaped Anne’s relationship with Miss Walker during the beginning of their marriage.
Anne Lister loved Mariana Lawton, and there is no denying that, but Mariana could never give her what she wanted. While Anne might not have been in love with Ann Walker as she was with Mariana, Ann provided her with what she always wanted. The show makes a point of showcasing Anne’s struggle, and Surrane Jones perfectly embraces the challenge.
This central dilemma is something that we never see, so real and yet unheard of when it comes to queer television. Anne loves Mariana, but Mariana doesn’t want to be with Anne openly. While Anne might not be in love with Ann like she is with Mariana, Ann is devoted to her like no one before.
This carries the whole season and provides frustrating moments to watch, but also very pleasing. It is so refreshing to be simply watching a lesbian couple struggle in their marriage. We rarely get to experience something that is now portrayed as a matter the fact.
While this romantic struggle is explored, there is the matter of the town and the revolution that is brewing in the background. The show might not focus on the politics of the time, but because of who Anne Lister was, it is something that deserves a spotlight. Gentleman Jack does a great job of exploring the tumultuous time and the ever-changing politics of the time. While, at times, it is hard to understand what is happening – especially for someone outside the UK who is not well versed in English Politics, even fewer politics from the 1800s – the show does a great job at showing the ups and downs of it all and portraying how it is affecting not only the Lister’s but also those who work and live in town.
The second season of Gentleman Jack might have taken oh so long to get made and arrive on television, but the wait was very much worth it.
This show might be a period piece, but there is just a breath of fresh air that emanates from it. This kind of romance is rarely seen on television and is portrayed with heart and dedication.
From the first episode of the season to the last, Gentleman Jack transport you to Halifax. Captivating and challenging, there is simply nothing like this show on television and I, for one, am grateful we at least have this one.