Women’s issues, season 6

I want to move on to other topics, but women’s concerns are very much evident in season 6 so far. In episode 1 we have the wedding-finally. Louisa arrives late and is now getting married the way she wanted to originally insofar as she doesn’t have any bridesmaids and she really doesn’t need anyone to walk her down the aisle. Martin doesn’t have a best man, so they are matched evenly there. Of course, since it’s their wedding day, Louisa is making an effort to accommodate Martin. She does ask him to remain at the reception just a bit longer and he obliges. When they learn that the village has planned an overnight surprise and Aunt Ruth is happy to babysit, Louisa again implores Martin to accept and he does. Naturally the night does not go smoothly, although it has its lovely moments. One of the best is when Louisa turns to Martin and says, “Hallo, husband,” and he replies “Hallo, Mrs. Ellingham.” They kiss and Louisa says “Anything you say.” Not surprisingly, Martin takes her literally and replies, “I didn’t say anything.” But the point is made — Louisa is giving herself to him, something he’s been wanting for a long time. However, when the night becomes a series of mishaps, we enjoy a variety of exchanges between the two that are amongst the funniest of the series. Louisa is unable to keep Martin from looking for a telephone to get their clothes, but she immediately knows Martin is going the wrong way. In terms of her strength, she clearly disagrees with him about where the road is, she refuses to wade across the stream, and when he carries her, she brings up her true desire to have had a honeymoon. Her explanation for backing down during the planning stages baffles him, but most women can really relate to what she says. She went along with his choice of wedding and honeymoon arrangements because she wanted him to be happy. Nonetheless, she would have liked to have taken a honeymoon. She has mixed feelings.

As the night plays out, we see her make fun of Martin and his awkwardness in the forest (or wood), one of the funniest moments in the series, and also show concern when he falls. They are both protective of each other throughout the eventful night, but it’s Louisa who suspects the sound they hear is someone yelling at foxes, who takes the flashlight from Martin so they can read the signs outside the caravan, and who grabs the gun and tells the vagabond to apologize to her husband and fix the fence himself. She plays a very important role in getting them through the night, even helping with the surgery, and tries to look on the bright side as morning arrives. She tells Martin their wedding night will be a night they won’t ever forget — all of it. We can’t help but like her gumption and her positive attitude.

In episode 2 Louisa’s position of authority is evident in the way she leads the school assembly, and in her insistence that Martin go to the concert as planned and then try to be sociable. Later, after the dinner party goes pretty wrong, Louisa decides to confront Dennis, the President of the Board of Governors for the school, and talk things out. She won’t be shutoff by Dennis and unplugs his electrical tool so that she can be heard. This is bold stuff!

It’s nice to see a softer side of Louisa when she tells Martin she’ll miss him as she’s leaving in the morning and when she reminds him that it’s their 2 week anniversary later in the day. He doesn’t respond in kind, but there are a couple of nice moments.

Episode 3 finds Louisa dealing with the most troubling of issues working women confront these days — leaving one’s baby with a nanny. There was a time when children of wealthy families were usually brought up by governesses and the mothers didn’t seem to be conflicted about it. Now, however, women want to feel competent both at work and as mothers. The problem is when you’re at work, you want to be at home with your child and yet you still want to have a job. It’s especially hard to know that someone else is watching your baby grow and develop and you may be missing some of the developmental milestones. As with Louisa, mothers both resent and appreciate the care a nanny provides. In a sense, Louisa has a good set-up; she can simply run home when she wants. But we see that her work suffers to some degree because she’s distracted. There’s really no good solution and it’s not surprising that Louisa’s mood is affected.

The other strong woman very much a part of the 6th season is Ruth. Once again we enjoy her wit and good nature during the first 2 episodes. In the 3rd she has center stage and handles a very difficult situation with aplomb and steadiness. She’s not a woman who is easily shaken, even by a psychopath! As in the case of Michael who stole her hubcaps and pointed a shotgun at her, Ruth stays calm and knows the best thing to say at the right time.

So the women continue to impress and I expect the next few episodes will only reaffirm the stature of the women in this series.

Originally posted 2013-09-19 21:03:33.

5 thoughts on “Women’s issues, season 6

  1. James Regan

    It is wonderful to see how the writers are characterizing women in this series. However, I find it disappointing that most if not all the male characters, including Martin, are cast as noncommittal, pathological, or borderline cases of bumbling idiocy.

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    James, I totally agree with you and have written something about that at one or another point. I don’t remember at the moment which post it was in. When I do, I’ll give you that reference or republish it.

  3. Amy

    I had the same thought as James (and I’ve also not yet seen the post you referred to in your reply). Even though it seems the show’s writers are all men, they seem to portray women overall more positively than men. I will have to search for your other post. If you know the title, I’d love to know. But truly—is there one man who seems to be as strong and independent as Louisa or Joan or Ruth?

    The issues Louisa faced on returning to work while leaving a baby behind are certainly issues most women today face. Most of those women have no choice and also don’t have the luxury of hiring a nanny to stay at home with just their child. Louisa was one of the lucky ones, and yet even for her it was difficult. I remember how hard it was for me to return to work, and I was a lucky one also. I didn’t have a nanny in the house, but I was able to work part time. Even so, I was always torn between home and work, even as my kids got older. I thought the show did a very good job of portraying how Louisa, and many women, felt on returning to a job, even one they enjoyed and wanted to continue.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I really don’t remember when I wrote about the men. I looked through the titles of all the posts and couldn’t come up with the one it could be in. It’s possible I wrote something about the men in a comment rather than a post. Sorry I’m not much help here.

  5. Amy

    OK, no matter. I just think it’s interesting how male writers have portrayed the women more positively than the men.

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