Frock Flicks note: This is a guest post by our friend Yosa Addiss. After pursuing a degree in costume design, she created one of the first websites for custom-made costume gowns. Yosa has moved on to a career in marketing but remains a lifelong fan of historical costume. Find her at yosa.com.
Welcome to my oh-so-spoilery review of Sanditon (2019), episode 6. Catch up with previous episodes here.
We open with Charlotte realizing that she has arrived in London with nowhere to go, no directions, and no money. Why yes, this was a terrible idea. No one will marry you now that your reputation is thoroughly ruined. Read on, fine friends, it gets even more ridiculous.
She wears a new coat for this scene, in a nice pale green with dramatic dark trim. Kudos to the costume designer for the choice of a contrasting color in the jacket that shows up so nicely in darker scenes. The choice of color is particularly good for outwear.
Here is a Regency piece from one year prior as reference. In the extant example, the pelisse is lined with some sort of thin padding (brilliant) and quilted on the edges, all while being made of thin, rich silk satin. Charlotte’s pelisse is likely a lightweight wool, which is appropriate to time and place.
Sidney finds Charlotte in the tiny town called London, by pure chance. Right as Charlotte is about to be ill-treated. What a coincidence. Note the dark, dark, dark set. Mr. Hero offers to take her to safety, which she naturally refuses outright. Ugh, as if she would have been given a choice in the matter.
Nice coach, and sound design, as they whine at each other. Charlotte finds out that Mr. Hero has renounced the sugar trade because he despises slavery. Oh, so maybe he isn’t villainous after all. Yes, he accuses her of being prejudiced against him. I am not 100% sure, but I think I heard a line when the guys were in the pub together where one sentence uses the words Pride, Prejudice, and Persuasion. Ha!
Here is a great traveling outfit he could have been wearing:
Also, where did his collar go?
See further down below, in the etching of the dancers, where the collars are so high, they cover the man’s entire cheek. It is entirely inappropriate for Mr. Hero to have a collar that low/modern. One of the great things about Regency fashion is those high shirt collars on men. The collars encourage men to face who they are speaking to, turning their shoulders toward them. The turning of the body to face you is a subconscious sign that the person is fully engaged with what you are saying, and this intensifies personal connection. To remove that collar is to remove the formality, focus, and period detail from entire scenes.
Compare with Lord Babbington, and how he turns his body toward Esther when they talk. High collar, high emotional, connection, high romance.
Collars and hats! Very thoroughly covered necks and sometimes cheekbones.
Gorgeous color tones and period-appropriate prints — but where did his collar go?
Leather vest? Really?
Bit modern, yeah? Well, at least it matches his rugged hair and light beard.
The romantic man is found, giving a speech to the Sons of Africa group. How cool is it that we get to see the well-dressed crowd of mixed-race attendees? And that his speech is smart, persuasive, and passionate? Very! Suitable to the novel, likely not. But awesome anyway? Yes. What is he talking about? How men and women should be treated as equals? Oh yeah! Sure! Why not?
We find out that romantic Mr. Molineau’s mail has been stolen and a bad, bad man has intercepted and run away with Georgiana to sell her into marriage for her dowry. Ok, ICK. Why is it necessary to find a way to sell Georgiana? Even one that isn’t racially based? I have so very many objections to this. Many, many.
The trope of the fat, middle-aged white man as abuser is in bad taste. Fat-shaming is not cool. Terrible-people-shaming is easy enough to do without making a large swath of perfectly nice people who happen to be white and overweight into villains. It is a sad comparison to the youngest Parker brother who is overweight but utterly marvelous and sweet-natured.
Say it with me:
There is no selling of people in Jane Austen.
Come on, already!
Here is a lovely prop as a palate cleanser from that vile nonsense:
Am I the only one who notices even the small props? I paused the show just to have a better look at this pen. Yes, I totally did.
To me this looks right, a metal holder, with replaceable nibs, that could hold a decorative feather out the end. Nice touch that there isn’t a feather here. This is an emergency, after all.
Meanwhile, back at the Dowager’s fortune plot, the Dowager puts on a cap (yay!) but doesn’t manage to put her hot-rolled hair into it (boo!).
Then they show the cap from the side, and I have zero idea what is going on with it:
It doesn’t cover her hair. It has strange darts, um, what? It looks like someone had to very quickly turn a handkerchief or a discarded ruffle into a cap while the entire production screeched to a halt waiting for it. I imagine that totally happens.
Caps during this time and earlier were lovely, highly decorative, and fitted. Even people of little means could afford the small amounts of fabric for a nice hair cover. Here is a good example:
Here the cap holds and covers the top, sides, and back of the hair. The addition of lace in black and the point in front illustrates that this is a widow, out of mourning due to the wearing of blue instead of black for the ribbons.
Caps that tied under the chin were in fashion during the years before our story and were worn for a wide range of ladies, especially those who were older. This would have been a perfectly appropriate cap for the Dowager to wear. I was anti-cap myself till I made one and tried it. Wearing one that fit nicely kept my hair in place, clean, and completely out of the way all day, without even having to think about it. It was such an easy, pretty way to wear my hair!
Now is the time to mention that it is still the same day as the cricket match. So dang much drama all at once. The director and editors cut the scenes so that we jump back and forth between plots every 3-5 minutes. It is hard to recap and can get hard to follow in how soap-opera the entire show has gotten. Seriously, we are 12 minutes into the episode.
Moving on — Mr. Hero and Charlotte (because, of course, she follows him) go to a brothel, where the proprietress knows him on sight as a former frequent customer.
There are no brothels in Jane Austen.
Or handjobs or incest.
And why does this brothel extra have the best hairdo in the series so far? Inquiring minds want to know.
Charlotte is a bit dubious of Mr. Hero’s explanation that the place is a boarding house, and the two race to catch up with the Very Bad Man and Georgiana who are rushing to Scotland so the Bad Man can marry her and get all her money.
Down the next day and Mr. Handsomebutslimy has searched all night for the Dowager’s will. He intends to change it in his favor before she dies. Esther is magically missing a shirt/chemise again, which means she didn’t wear one all day, including to the cricket match? This stopped making any sense a while ago.
Bad, Bad Man and miserable Georgiana. He is slimy, this entire plot line is offensive. His costume with that collar = really nice! Remembering that there is an actor who played the part and a costumer who made him look that good is important here, because the story points are nauseating.
Car Carriage chase time! Mr. Hero jumps from his carriage to Georgiana’s, and it looks just like this:
So, Mr. Hero stops the carriage in time, threatens that kidnapping is a hanging offense, and the bad, bad guys leave.
Hooray, Georgiana is saved. But, wait — how did she get into evening dress? She was in an outdoor outfit for the cricket match, then ran away, and was suddenly wearing an exquisitely beaded dress to be kidnapped in?
Lovely dress for Georgiana, provided by the brothel maybe? Hey, it worked for Outlander…
Claire turns up with the will and shows it to Mr. Handsomebutslimy. The Dowager is leaving her money to Sanditon and to start breeding donkeys. Really? Do I even need to say that there are no donkey studs in Jane Austen? There are no donkey studs in Jane Austen.
Claire then suggests they make a bargain over the money and burn the will. They settle on Claire getting 1/5th of the estate. This evil plotting is apparently so overwhelming that they have to tear each other’s clothes off and have not-even-hot sex on the floor.
There is no sex in Jane Austen.
There is especially no random hate sex on parlor room floors in Jane Austen.
I think not.
I suppose there are points to be made here — like how her underskirts and stockings are correct to the period, and how she didn’t need to take anything off because underwear were not worn back then. Maybe about how convenient it was that there were cameras on the ceiling so that they could get the shot of Claire climbing on top?
No, it is just ridiculous.
Cut to Charlotte being confused about Mr. Hero. She learns that he was engaged once, and the woman called it off. Sad trombone. Is he a great guy? Is he a dudebro who can’t even manage to shave regularly? Is he another bad, bad man?
Deep breath, we are only halfway through the episode. Save me now.
Mr. Hero allows Georgiana to say goodbye to her paramour, and it is sweet and articulate.
Nice coat, great vest, and complete lack of a high shirt collar. It is too bad, because otherwise he cuts a fine figure. His voice is pure romantic hero. Love to Jyuddah Jaymes, and I hope he is in many more productions.
Meanwhile back at the parlor room floor:
Mr. Handsomebutslimy looks great with his shirt off, and Claire does a bit more man-ipulation. She makes sure to remind him of the 1/4th of the inheritance she will get upon the dowager’s passing. HA! He only agreed to 1/5th before. I guess if she is going to sell herself, she needs to get the right price?
This has now gone so far, that the only thread of story I still like is Lord Babbington. He shows up an invitation to a ball that very same night! What a crazy random happenstance! Of course Charlotte will go. Mr. Hero apologizes to her — for underestimating her. Not for the brothel, not for his tiny part in her ruined reputation, not even for not shaving his face or allowing her to have enough hairpins.
The ball scene. So many opinions. This is clearly supposed to be the romantic dance where Mr. Hero and Charlotte have a meeting of the minds. Where is the money-mess Sanditon’s wife?
Charlotte finally found the hairpins! And wants her bustline up to her neck! It is so refreshing to see her hair done, it is like a deep breath of fresh air. I laughed for entirely too long when one of the men didn’t recognize her! Ha! She is so lovely with her hair up.
Why is she on the left? Because she is a fallen woman? Or is this our chance to admire Mr. Hero’s new chinos? So we can better admire her gold Belle dress?
Possible dress inspiration. Charlotte’s dress has a great color and silhouette, perhaps was borrowed and that is why it is so tight at the bust?
Why are people in masks?
Why is she wearing stretch satin opera gloves instead of woven gloves above the elbow?
Why does this ballroom have the same chandelier as the one from the beginning of the series? Does it remind anyone else of the one in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?
And why is the room filled with fake plastic trees? Trees full of paper lanterns that look a lot like a fire trap. Trees full of spring blossoms, after the story has told us that it is the end of the summer season? Who thought this was a good idea? Whoever did needs to go into time out until they realize the idea is frankly ridiculous.
OMG this would be so great for Prom!
Lovely art decoration and gowns here. It is best if you ignore the dialogue — Charlotte says way too much and will magically get a royal to bring everyone to the Sanditon regatta. Because, of course, she does.
Sophie Winkleman looks lovely as Lady Susan. But why call her Lady Susan, when she played Susan in The Chronicles of Narnia movies? Why????
In the “things they got right” category is her entire ensemble. She is the peak of fashion in a dainty print dress, of the finest nearly sheer fabrics, she is clearly wearing stays for posture and silhouette, and everything fits her well.
I like the small amount of lace at the short sleeves, the band at the raised waist with brooch, and her elegant gloves. Ignore her clearly contoured makeup, at least her face is the same color as her neck. Standards. OK, I wish we could see ladies wearing pretty pink blush.
In this etching of dancers at a ball in 1815, note the sexy low necklines in the front and daringly in the back on the ladies. The sleeves are short, and the gloves are what we now call opera length. The men wore dancing slippers, white stockings to show their well-turned calf muscles, and below-the-knee pants in light colors. The collars on the men’s shirts are shown to a bit of comic effect with the collar points covering most of their cheek.
This long shot shows some of the odd costume choices. Charlotte’s dress is too short as well as too tight. Mr. Hero managed to find the only pitch black pair of stockings in London and clearly forgot to take his clunky modern shoes off and put his dancing slippers on. Also note his black pants and how his vest is inches longer than the rest of the crowd, including the man standing next to him. Dude, shave your face.
Dancing an imaginary dance that is half-waltz, half choreography to the tune of a harp, solo violin, and tambourine!!!!! falling over giggling as I type Those are stretchy modern gloves, aren’t they?
Mr. Parker wears a strange burgundy suit of taffeta? Maybe? And Charlotte’s hair looks good from the back, too.
Never to be without a plot twist, Mr. Hero runs into his old flame, the one who broke his heart marrying another richer man. Eliza. Who has now conveniently died. Without having any children with her. Somehow after the parlor room floor, this isn’t much of a cliffhanger.
On to episode 7 next week!
Are we watching Dynasty here or Jane Austen? There are no female widow ex-suiters who jilted the Hero by marrying someone elseband return x number of years later unencumbered in Jane Austen.
The only thing nice here is that Charlotte FINALLY has found Bobby pins and wears her hair up.
This is getting more ridiculous by episode.
I came here just to read about her hair up. The actress, herself, is so much prettier with her hair up! She’s got that cute round face that is so matched by those little curls and the gold banding.
Maybe with her hair up, she looks a little too “prim” for modern audiences, but it’s really so much prettier on her.
Surely the name of ‘Lady Susan’ is an in-joke regarding another unfinished Austen story?
The production brilliantly picked a storyline that Austen herself despised and made fun of in Nothanger Abbey, to wit: kidnapping and forced marriage. In fact there are indications that she planned to satirize a similar plotline, girl kidnapped to be raped by villain, in Sanditon.
So Charlotte runs away to London to rescue her pal without money or a plan. Brilliant. Now if she’d gone up to London specifically to enlist Sidney, that would have made sense. He’s in London. He’s Georgina’s guardian he’s the obvious person to appeal too. But that would make too much sense.
Mr. Molyneaux isn’t perfect, he’s got a gambling problem. But who cares, he’s still gorgeous.
Charlotte and Sidney can’t wear proper costumes because they are respectively the hero and heroine. They must be ‘relatable’ and appealing to the modern eye.
An even better question then where did Georgiana get an evening dress is WHY she’s wearing an evening dress for a long coach trip. What The Hell? And still no hat!
I actually came to the comment section to say exactly that lol. Where did that dress come from? The only thing I can think of is perhaps Georgiana had clothing still in London and let her borrow a dress, but even that barely makes sense.
There are no brothels because Jane Austen specifically did not write about things she knew nothing about. She never included scenes where men conversed alone without the presence of women because she did not know what those kinds of conversations would be like. I think we can agree that a brothel would be out of her experience.
There’s also the little matter that no decent man, like our hero is supposed to be, would take a respectable woman with him to a brothel under any circumstances.
And this is exactly why Andrew Davies’s writing is so irksome to me. He obviously has no idea how trauma works psychologically–and more importantly for his job–how trauma can be handled in a way that helps characterization and move the plot forward.
The parlor-sex-scene: Is Claire supposed to be acting out sexual agency? For someone “ready to do anything to stay [in a stable environment of comfortable wealth]”, her behavior here makes so sense at all, and is really disrespectful.
Austen did not write what she did not know. And in the 21-century, a man with with no small talent and access to the internet for research, decides to write what he does not know. Inexcusable.
Thanks for the recap–I laughed out loud multiple times!
The biggest frustration for me about the whole Georgiana plot was how she was simply a plot device. She should have been a much more developed character (since the writers were just spitballing everything, why not go all the way and make her someone with more common sense??), but her character arc just ended when Mr. Cute True Love was abruptly written out of the story because of a sudden gambling indiscretion. And if your attention wanders for a moment (as mine did), it’s hard to catch what happened.
What a lovely evening gown, but way too expensive for someone like Charlotte! Just give her something more character appropriate–the designers and director were definitely going for a whole Beauty and the Beast thing.
The Georgiana plot device (Georgiana comes with the appropriate name of Lambe) really irked me as well. Georgiana and Charlotte, as female friends, would have been together at the ball. And again later in the story — especially with Charlotte so instrumental in saving Georgiana being kidnapped. But alas not, since Georgiana’s usefulness to the story had ended. It wouldn’t be so frustrating if Georgiana’s character wasn’t Black. Instead it becomes a common trope seen with characters that are BIPOC — removed from the story once they’ve served the story line.
The dance they are dancing is Landler which is a precursor to the Walt and it’s been around since at least the 1600s. My guess is they forced georgeana into that evening gown while she was at the brothel. Sidney did bring Charlotte into the brothel with him. She went in against his wishes that she stay in the carriage. There was sex in Austen, they may not have been explicit scenes but let’s not forget Wickham ran away with Lydia and they were found in a motel or whatever together will it be seduced a 15 year old got her pregnant and abandon her. The dress is borrowed from Lord babington sister.
Charlotte is such an ass.
But why would they force Georgiana into a fancy and expensive evening gown for a long coach journey to Scotland? So weird.
I thought that maybe it was a form of control, to force her to dress nicely for a wedding she has no desire to participate in. Seems like the kind of mind game that could conceivably go with a kidnapping scheme. But I’m also open to the idea that I give them too much credit and they just wanted to put her in a sparkly dress lol
London to Gretna Green was more than a day trip wasn’t it? Is Georgiana supposed to wear the same gown day and night? Or have they brought others?
It’s more than 300 miles from London to Gretna Green. Horse-drawn carriages went maybe 20 miles a day, maximum, and had to be changed out frequently to rest. Jane Austen was actually really accurate about this sort of thing which makes all these anachronisms so frustrating.
Because Austen implies extramarital sex; she does not feature it outright.
Oh, I forgot to mention- the miraculous Chandelier moves up and down in order to be in the scene. Sometimes it is well above the actors, sometimes (I got a screenshot of it) it is way lower. Watching the ball scenes carefully the miracle chandelier placement becomes obvious.
Ugh poor Jane Austen…could not even hate watch this mess…
I hope reading about it brings a laugh, and I try to point out the good things as well as the funny things. :-)
One of the problems with the production is the lack of , intentional, humor. Wall to wall angst and melodrama but none of Austen’s wit.
Forgive me for a picky point, but though i am heartily with you on the absence of brothels, handjobs, and incest in Austen there ARE in fact donkey stud ventures. In the Sanditon fragment that exists, Lady Denham is speculating in “milch asses” for health purposes.
Also WTF was up with Charlotte Sue spilling the drama about Georgiana to a total stranger? This is the sort of thing would have been HUSHED UP. No matter how much money Georgiana had, this would have ruined her reputation FOREVER, not to mention Mr. Hero and Charlotte Sue!