Gentleman Jack: A Lesbian Review of Series 1 & Series 2 Recommendations Gentleman Jack.
You want to know what I think about Series 1? From a lesbian perspective? You may have seen my previous article and video – they contained my initial thoughts to the BBC One and HBO period drama series, Gentleman Jack. And you've been asking to hear what I think now we have reached the end of Series 1. Well. I've been watching. But I can't help it! My work head is switched on and I'm observing from the perspective of 'is this an authentic portrayal of Anne Lister – a historical character who liked the ladies?' I've been specifically observing how Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle characterised Anne Lister and Ann Walker and the way they interacted throughout this first series of Gentleman Jack.
In This Article
This article contains my thoughts on Series 1 and recommendations for Series 2 – what I want to see Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle address to create more authentic lesbian characters and Sally Wainwright and Lookout Point (the production company) to address in the scripts and production of Series 2. I'm going to hone in specifically on Suranne Jones and Anne Lister since we have so much information to hand about her – I'll be looking at her characterisation and relationships with women. And yes... I'm going to talk about intimacy too. Series 2 has been commissioned and I want to see Suranne Jones nail the performance, the character and nuances of the relationships of Anne Lister. If Lookout Point, Sally Wainwright and the actors get this right, they will produce a lasting legacy for future generations of the LGBT+ community. If they get it 'wrong' there is the risk of alienating some within the lesbian community, especially if this isn't done sensitively and authentically. The big concern for HBO and BBC One? Retaining its viewers. Authentic characterisation of lesbians and how they interact in relationships. This is what I focus on when working with actors, directors, production teams and script writers. That is my expertise, what YOU want to know about and with Anne Lister's diaries, we have loads of information to go off! Naturally, I'll have to talk about Ann Walker too, but I won't be going into as much detail.
I was an actor and now I WORK with actors, directors, production teams and script writers. I spent much of my youth in and on the stage at what you saw in Gentleman Jack as Rawson's Bank - the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. It feels like a second home to me. You need to know:
- I critique performances and advise and provide recommendations on how to create authentic lesbian characters and relationships on screen – for TV and film. I created the Playing It Gay Guidelines; for straight actors playing gay characters.
In the Guidelines I detail the main considerations for a straight actor when creating and playing a gay character. These are being used around the world by high profile actors, Hollywood actors and students and they are being raved about, both on and off set!
- I haven't read the full scripts, books or journals. I have read excerpts from Anne's diaries and historian accounts to provide insights and background to my review and I have researched Anne Lister's mind-body type and birth chart.
Series 1 Review
Series 1 has now finished and what a finale that was! I'm going to start by reviewing the script then Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle's performance as Anne Lister and Ann Walker.
The script for the first series was fantastic. Sally Wainwright created a masterpiece; specifically focusing in on what it was like to live in the 1800s, Anne Lister as an astute businesswoman and her lesbian relationships. It can't have been easy to pull the script together, what with the amount of information to hand about Anne Lister's life. The level of detail she went to (such as Anne keeping a tally of number of orgasms) was impeccable. In Series 2, I want a more rounded picture of Anne Lister's life. Anne wasn't just a lesbian and businesswoman. She was an avid walker and a pioneering mountaineer and climber. She was the first British person (male or female) to climb the highest peak of the Pyrenees, Mount Vignemale in 1838. Opening up the storyline wider than being about her lesbian encounters and her business activities is essential in Series 2. I want to see more about her adventures, studies, mountaineering and travelling; a fuller and more complete picture of Anne Lister's life and how Ann Walker responds to this lifestyle. Anne Lister liked the ladies. She had many passionate love affairs. BUT we must remember that her relationship with Ann Walker was not a passionate love affair, it was more of a business transaction – marrying for wealth, connection and social status. Money was her primary objective. This needs to be addressed more in Series 2. I feel the portrayal of their relationship is being overly romanticised. I'll talk about this more in the Recommendations for Series 2. Anne Lister's diaries. Anne's diaries are central to the story and I feel this hasn't been capitalised on. She was an avid writer, documenting her life in detail. In episode 8 we saw Anne writing letters back home. This really engaged me and hooked me in. I want to see more of Anne reflecting and writing in her diary, more letter writing and the storytelling that goes along with that. This will give us an insight into her life, her travels and more importantly, how she thinks.
The wider cast were essential in creating a strong sense of what it must have been like to be Anne Lister; someone who is very different to other women of the era, rejecting gender norms (clothing, in business, lifestyle choices, marriage etc), a strong character, astute in business and a lesbian in the 1800's. She will have had to contend with strong social, cultural and religious conditioning, pressures and expectations related to her gender, her role in the family unit, within business, society and relationships. All of this coming from her family, friends, the local community and society at large. It must have been an oppressive and stifling atmosphere for Anne Lister, especially when out in public and socially. The wider cast's roles in creating this environment was essential and portrayed very well.
Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle's Performance
Here is a review of the lead actors performances. Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle. There has been much controversy about them playing the lesbian characters, as there tends to be when straight actors are cast into gay roles. That being said, I think they have started off really well and delivered solid performances. It isn't easy to play a gay character. Just as it isn't easy playing a straight character when you are gay! I believe we (the LGBT+ community) think, feel and behave differently. Why? Because we have grown up in a heterosexual, cis-gendered world. All of the social conditioning we have experienced over the years has subconsciously impacted on how we show up in the world. As a heterosexual you are largely unaware of that and the impact it has. You haven't had to hide, censor and alter your behaviour, words, mannerisms etc to fit in and be accepted. We create masks to protect ourselves. Anne Lister is no exception to this. She writes that she has grown used to the comments, glances, abuse and looks she gets when in the street (episode 6) and when Mariana told Anne she was ashamed to be seen in public with such a masculine-looking woman, tears rolled down Anne's cheeks whilst Mariana did nothing to comfort her (episode 7). For a straight actor to play a gay character, it can come with much criticism. And it isn't easy to get your head into creating such a character. There are many things to consider when creating a character: mind-body types (this is key), early influences and how they have affected you, your mindset, how you interact with and your connection with other people based on those early influences you experienced, how different mind-body types interact in relationships (dating, short term and more committed, longer term) etc. See my Playing It Gay Guidelines for more information. All the way through Series 1, I had my work head switched on and I observed how Suranne and Sophie characterised Anne and Ann and how they interacted together in the early days of their relationship. What differentiates lesbian characters from straight characters is not how they act, but how they INTERACT with other female characters. I was watching closely how this played out. I think Suranne and Sophie have a basic understanding and grasp of their individual characters and some of the struggles lesbians face in day to day life. For them to not alienate the audience in Series 2, I think they need to go deeper into their characterisation and really get into the minds and life experiences to fully embody these two women. What was missing for me was a deeper understanding of the characters; how they think, feel and behave as a result of their mind-body type, birth chart and the conditioning they have individually faced in their lives. How this impacts on who they are, how they interact with lovers, how this impacts on family dynamics and how they present themselves to the outside world. I want to see Suranne bring Anne Lister's mind-body type to life. I think Suranne physically portrayed Anne well. She needs to work on the mental and emotional aspects of Anne Lister's character. Sophie portrayed Ann's mental state really well. She needs to work on the physical and emotional aspect of Ann Walker. This was missing for me in the characterisation of Anne and Ann. I will go into a lot more detail about mind-body types and the impact of these for Suranne and Sophie in the next section - Recommendations for Series 2.
Series 1 Review Summary
Overall, the series was fantastic. I enjoyed the storyline, getting to know the characters and watching the different interactions with Anne Lister and her lovers. I felt a sense of belonging, the storyline resonated with me and I could identify with many of the scenes unfolding on the screen and I got this deeper feeling of 'this show is helping to normalise LGBT+ life.' Straight people in the street are coming up to me and asking me what I think to the show. They are discussing the life of Anne Lister and asking questions, to get a better understanding of what it is like to be a lesbian now. Conversations are happening all over the world about Anne Lister and Gentleman Jack – it is opening people's eyes to a wider perspective and different life to their own. That to me is brilliant. Raising awareness and generating conversation around LGBT+ life - mission accomplished! Ok, so that being said. Here is what was missing for me and what I would like to see addressed in Series 2.
Series 2 Recommendations
Is Gentleman Jack a truly authentic representation of lesbian life? That is the big question. My thoughts are... The ground work has been put in place in Series 1. The general public are hooked and want to know more. So let's show them more! For this to be a truly authentic portrayal of lesbian life and to create a lasting legacy for future generations of the LGBT+ community, this is what I need to see in Series 2.
Creating Authentic Characters
Anne Lister was the 19th century equivalent of a "butch" lesbian. But that shouldn't dictate her characterisation. A deeper level of characterisation is needed with both Anne and Ann, using Mind-Body Types. I feel a surface level has been achieved where we resonate with the characters and now I want Suranne and Sophie to go deeper. To become more real, relatable and authentic. To fully embody who Anne and Ann were and their troubled relationship, based on their mind-body types and what we know about them from their birth charts. Let me explain what I mean. Firstly, it is great when you have a real life, historical person to work with – such as Anne Lister. There are lots of clues to help get the characterisation right. Looking at portraits of her, we can see her skin, eyes, nose, hair, height, weight. Physical appearance tells us a lot about the person and helps to classify their mind-body type. Knowing their mind-body type provides clues on what Anne Lister and Ann Walker were like as people, what drives them, how they act when in balance and when out of balance, how they are as lovers, what they like and what they don't like. All of this information can be collated and used to create a more authentic character. Anne's diaries are also hugely useful in creating an authentic character. Through her use of words and language we get a real insight into how she thinks, feels and behaves. Very quickly we can pick up clues as to how she interacts with different people, how she is as a lover with different women and insights into her social and cultural conditioning. And we find out what other people are saying about her too, when she writes about it...
Knowing your mind-body type is essential to understanding yourself, and the character you are creating. They reveal so much information about you! There are 3 mind-body types. You are born with a unique ratio of these 3 mind-body types (or Doshas), as defined by Ayurveda. They come together differently in each one of us and it is this unique combination that makes you who you are. The unique ratio is your 'natural state' or what you are born with. This defines your appearance (hair, eye colour etc), the way you move, your posture, temperament, personality and characteristics, mannerisms, gestures, thought patterns, physical and mental ailments etc.
Anne Lister is a Pitta mind-body type and Ann Walker is a Vata mind-body type.
Let's start with Anne Lister.
Here is a brief overview of a Pitta mind-body type. Pitta is ruled by fire. Physically, Pitta's tend to be medium in height and weight. Their eyes are sharp and deep; usually grey, green or copper in colour. Expect a pointed nose and soft, large and thin lips that are red in colour. Soft nails - sometimes a little yellow. When in balance they have radiant, glowing skin. Their skin is soft and delicate but can often be red and irritated. They become hot easily and burn quickly in the sun. Pitta types have thin, soft, blonde or red hair that turns grey early or they suffer from thinning or balding. They have a tendency to eat and drink large amounts and if they do not eat when hungry they become irritable. They have excellent digestion and a warm body temperature. They sleep soundly and have a strong sex drive. They have strong circulation and are prone to heat or blood problems later in life (do you know how Anne Lister died...?). Emotionally: Pitta have a powerful, sharp intellect and a strong ability to concentrate. They are precise, efficient, sharp-witted, direct and often outspoken. They understand easily and are intelligent by nature. They are goal oriented. They know what they have to do and they do it. They are warm, sensitive, smart and have compassion. They are full of vitality, charming and charismatic, with a love of attention. They are great fun to be around because they are so dynamic and colourful. They are good decision makers, initiators, talkers, dealers, administrators, directors, teachers and speakers. They are often high achieving 'workaholics.'
What does this tell us about Anne Lister?
We can know so much about Anne simply from her mind-body type. And this is essential information when creating an authentic portrayal of Anne Lister. When in balance she is warm, loving and content. Enthusiastic and passionate. Sweet, joyous, confident and brave. She is intense and 100% present. You will have her undivided attention. Anne is highly status conscious and an enterprising character. Pitta's tend to be high profile people and their energy fills the room. In a social situation, she is centre of attention. Everyone wants to know her and as such she gets into high profile places. Mariana summed it up nicely in episode 1 when she referred to Anne as: "Running rings around polite society." Anne's friendships are usually with a goal or shared interest. When Anne wants something she is very driven, focused and determined in her efforts to get it. She is ambitious and goal orientated; usually having one clear goal and going for it, like a rocket, with determination and intensity. She will do whatever it takes to achieve it. She is a perfectionist about the details, will muscle her way through obstacles and come out strong. She likes challenges and meets them vigorously. She has fire in her belly and is full of drive and energy. This can be seen as calculating and ruthless at times. She takes command of situations or feels she should. Anne likes to be in charge and to lead (in the family, socially, in business, in the bedroom). She likes to make decisions and she truly believes she does not need to be taken care of (especially by a man). She is active and not afraid to get her hands dirty; loving to work in the fields with the men. She is a strong, brave character, rising above what people said about her. Anne is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. She doesn't want to conform to social expectations and defied the gender norms of the day. Anne did not want to marry a man. Instead she wanted everything a man could have. She is bold and courageous – we see her in episode 8 dancing with a woman at the Queen's Ball. Most unmarried women wore white back then. She decided to only wear black, spent a lot of time studying, managed her own estates, sought business opportunities, travelled widely and climbed mountains. Most of this was not what 'women did'. Anne processes information quickly and she remembers it (remember the scene with the Rawson's when she reeled off the pricing for the coal?) She has a sharp, penetrating mind and intellect and brilliant concentration. She has a thirst for knowledge and travel; self-studying politics, anatomy, Greek and Roman literature to name a few. Anne's 'oddity' as she referred to it intrigued her. She trawled books on anatomy to try to understand where her feelings came from but to no avail. As she came to terms with her sexuality, there was no self-loathing. She believed her feelings were entirely natural. Pitta's are obsessive in their personality, often keeping accurate accounts of things going on in their life. Hmm, how many volumes of journals did Anne have...? Direct, sharp witted, outspoken, strong minded, bold and intense with a somewhat forceful manner. She once argued with a Russian prince about his claim to have beaten her to the summit of a mountain. She is not scared to speak her mind! Pitta's have precise, articulate speech. They hold strong opinions and like to argue and debate. Pitta (Anne) speaks less than Vata (Ann) and always with a purpose; direct and sharp. Their words can easily hurt. Her speed of movement and speech is decided. She has a determined stride when she walks (we saw this in episode 8 when walking into the Queen's Ball – masculine in her stance and stride). Efficient and organised, she lives by her watch and resents having her time wasted. She has an innate tendency to be orderly and manage energy, money and actions efficiently. Spending money on luxuries is the one exception. She loves to have fine things around her.
Anne Lister Out Of Balance
Anger is characteristic. Negative emotion and stress easily brings this out. She becomes quick to anger yet easy to forget. With patience, compassion and a little space she can easily cool down. She becomes irritable, impatient, angry, demanding, perfectionistic, cutting and abrasive in her manner – which alienated people. She can be argumentative, opinionated and jealous. Short tempered and hot headed at times. Heat is prominent within her. She typically responds badly to toxic emotions – hostility, hatred, intolerance and jealousy. She is stubborn and critical of herself and others. She becomes controlling, demanding, competitive and has a fiery personality. She may even try to out-perform her partner. She has a sharp tongue and has workaholic tendencies. Physically when out of balance, she becomes overheated, has excess stomach acid, skin rashes, acne, inflammation and interrupted sleep. All of this we know from her mind-body type. And we find evidence of all of this throughout her diary entries.
Anne Lister's Birth Chart
What else do we know about Anne Lister? Her birth chart tells us more about who Anne is. Based on her date of birth (assuming she has a Leo ascendant from what we already know about her) we can access even more information. All of the mind-body type information noted above is also reflected in her birth chart. A flavour of the information from her birth chart: "With her ascendant in Leo, she will be noticed whether she wants to be or not. She has presence and radiates with magnetism that gets other's attention. She cares about her appearance and is aware of people she is with and what that will do to her image. She enjoys being centre of attention. She has a need to be admired. She has a strong need to be recognised and accomplished. Anne has a strong Uranus presence in her chart. Uranus rules Aquarius and those with a heavy influence in their chart are born to shake things up, to be the revolutionaries. Her focus was on herself, not on reforming women's rights or reform to better humanity. Her freedom will not be restricted and she positively asserts herself to get what she wants. There is a strong need for independence, freedom, uniqueness and a rebellious nature. This includes the way she dresses; she is masculine in her expression. She has problems conforming to traditional and moral social standards. She craves change and will decide on a spur of the moment to go and do something. She is easily bored and needs stimulation. She is prone to feeling isolated for being different and suffers rejection easily (such as Mariana, Vere etc). She is sensitive and fears rejection. There is a natural cautiousness and defensiveness; it is a self-protection mechanism. She can detach herself from her emotions, which is good in business dealings. However, this can give the impression to others that she doesn't need emotional nurturing. She hides her emotions (saying "I am always all right") and rarely shows how she really feels. Only close people to her, who she trusts know her deep feelings. This unwillingness to show emotions leads her to feel she is not worthy of being loved. This leads her into relationships that include hardship. We observe Anne becoming more emotionally detached from Mariana with her constant rejections. In love she is the one who likes to do the perusing. If they cant keep up with her or they do not stimulate her, she tires of them once she has conquered them. It needs to be a stimulating relationship. The drive to find a partner is powerful. She needs a stable partner who is reliable, trustworthy, loyal, is interested in a long term relationship and has wealth. She is sensual, likes cuddles, physical touching and having her senses aroused. She likes a predictable relationship without turbulence. She doesn't appreciate people with emotional up's and downs. She is romantic and uses it to charm and humour her lovers. Feelings of love are easily aroused and she enters relationships quickly if it is worth her while. There is a need for emotional excitement and to be spontaneous and free. She likes to be in nature. She craves big love, emotional expression, extraordinary beauty and financial, material security through her love partnerships. She is attracted to partners who have properties and money and are attractive. She attracts them with her charm and flirting. Possessive, jealous and obsessive, she finds it hard to let go of a partner she loves (such as Mariana). There is a power struggle in each relationship. Either Anne will be obsessed and controlled by her partner, who will have power over her and control over the relationship (Mariana). Or the roles can switch and change within one relationship. With Ann Walker, Anne Lister had the control; Ann was besotted with Anne from the beginning, and she knew it. She wants her needs met by her partner. She has a healthy and energetic need for sex. She needs a sexually energetic partner. Sex energises her and it is a vital part of how she expresses her love to her partner. She is spontaneous when it comes to sex; any place any time. She generally prefers quick sex that is not complicated. She does not have long stamina. She will have more patience and willingness to make sex last longer when she is in the mood for it. She likes to be in control in bed. Even though she loves straight forward sex she also has a need for it to be sensual; if not during it (she has a short patience span) she definitely wants to be sensual after sex. She wants to be seen as a good lover. She also needs quirky sex. She makes sex fun, she is a good lover (and she knows it) and she wants to admired for it. She wants to have a good lover who can please her as well. She is a smooth operator and says just the right thing at the right time to her partner to charm them and get what she wants (episode 8 to Ann Walker – "I missed you"). She is comfortable with her sexuality and helps her partners' overcome any sexual hang ups they may have. The way she relaxes is through, sport, being physically active, writing, learning and sex. Spending time alone is necessary to recharge all that burned energy. She wants to be the leader in her own home. Her moods are changeable and she isn't the most peaceful person to live with. She has a childlike innocence about her. Interestingly, Anne's 8th house is ruled by Aquarius. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus which is sudden, expected death. Aquarius rules friends. She died unexpectedly and suddenly with a 'friend'." This information was supplied by Anjelia Rakic. Thank you for analysing Anne Lister's chart and providing this information!
SERIES 2 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SURANNE JONES Emotional and Mental
Suranne to embody the emotional and mental aspects of the Pitta mind-body type and her birth chart. Suranne is playing the physical elements of the Pitta type well (the stride, speech etc), but is not paying attention to the emotional and mental side. We see her alternating between a Vata/Kapha mix when it comes to the emotional and mental aspects of Anne. We occasionally see her Pitta mind-body type in the business discussions she has with Rawson. Anne wasn't as strong as she made out. She had a burning need to be recognised and desperately wanted to be loved. She feared rejection. We see a couple of flashes of her vulnerability in episode 8. The first was when she was speaking with the Queen in Copenhagen. She had visible emotion in her eyes, was expressing her vulnerability and softness. The Queen dominated the conversation, despite Anne's attempts to lead it. It was an interesting dynamic – two Pitta types interacting together. The second was on the hill when reunited with Ann Walker. "Don't hurt me. I am not as strong as you think. Well, I am obviously... but sometimes I'm not." Here we get a glimpse of her mental health, her true feelings, her vulnerability. This scene was raw. She was hurt and upset about Ann's self-harm and expressed a genuine warmth and affection for her. This is a Pitta in balance expressing a rare occurrence of their emotions and mindset. We need to see more of the Pitta emotional and mental qualities of Anne Lister.
We know Anne wrote diaries. Lots of diaries. Detailing many private moments, her day to day life and her travels. I want to see more, a lot more, private moments of Anne writing in her journal. I want us to get a real insight into how and what she thinks. Show us more of Anne alone on camera. Writing, telling us how she feels about herself, what people say about her, what is going through her head. How she thinks and what she thinks, and how that impacts on how she relates to people. Show us how she changes her behaviour, censors herself and the different masks she wears in different scenarios. We know she fears rejection and is in self-preservation mode with her lovers – show us that. And show us what she really feels about Mariana, Ann, her Dad and her sister. This is missing in Series 1. Her relationships with her Dad, aunt, sister and past lovers will change when she is married. Show us how Anne Lister interacts differently with them. Give us personal conversations with her Dad and sister – let us see how the dynamics change. Show us more from Anne Lister's family and the intricacies of their relationship with Anne. There is more to explore with her family dynamics. There was no language for 'lesbian sexuality' back then. It was brushed aside and people refused to recognise it. Show us how she talked about it in her journals. The words she used. The phrases that she used. As a modern day lesbian, I want to know how she felt about it and how she talked about it. Anne felt alone in a world she didn't quite fit into (yep, I'm sure many LGBT+ people know how that one feels) and she poured her deepest thoughts on to the pages of her journals. Give us this experience.
Yes, Ann Walker had mental health issues but so did Anne Lister to a certain degree. There is no escaping it with the rollercoaster of emotions from being treated one way in private with your lover and then being spurned and rejected in public by them as they try to preserve their reputation in society. Anne's lovers rejecting her in favour of marrying men had a profound effect on her. It made her angry and bitter. We cannot underestimate this and ignore it. In episode 1 we saw a moment of tenderness and intense negative emotion when Anne was rejected by Vere Hobart. She was hurt, devastated and we saw her vulnerability and fiery nature being expressed. We need to see the impact this has on Anne personally and how it influences her future interactions with her ex-lovers. The impact of her rejecting gender norms will have had a big impact on Anne too – the mental toll of dealing with men that saw her as a joke or as someone they could not take seriously, in business or society. Show us evidence of Anne's hurt, rejection, grief, mourning of past lover's (that decided to marry men) and the loneliness she feels, both with her being a lesbian but also being a strong, bold, outspoken character. Show us the impact all of this is having on her mental health.
In A Relationship
What are the experiences she has had with lovers, in private and in public that have made her hold back in love? Holding back in love is a self-preservation tactic. Think of it as damage limitation. It is commonplace in LGBT+ relationships. Show us more about her past and why she is like she is with Ann Walker. Tell us more about the love of her life, Mariana and the pain and anguish she felt from Mariana's betrayal/marriage. How being with Mariana made her feel, compared to how she feels with Ann and the impact of their on/off relationship. The impact of her not wanting to be seen in public with Anne and the lack of public displays of affection. How all this made her feel. Suranne, please embrace the fiery side of Anne and show us that more. This is Anne's Pitta out of balance. There are many occasions when this will have happened. Show us how she is when she is fired up! Especially into Series 2 with her relationship with Ann. We know she is not in a passionate love affair with Ann and her 'illnesses' frustrate her at times. With Sophie, show us how this affects their relationship, tenderness and intimacy. There needs to be a shift in Suranne's portrayal of Anne once she is in a committed relationship with Ann (one that is more business than fuelled by passion). Show us a true representation of a Pitta-Vata relationship and how that plays out over time. THAT will hit the nail on the head for me. Show us Suranne's future encounters with Mariana fuelled by her Pitta emotional qualities – especially when Mariana acts inappropriately towards her. Anne rejecting Mariana. How does that play out after all these years of Mariana rejecting Anne? Show us Anne being off balance, taking the control back and how her character changes in those moments. Suranne needs to capture lesbian life and relationships with an intensity that demonstrates to me she really 'gets it'. Show us Anne being more present with her lover (emotionally, mentally and spiritually – not just physically), the level of intimacy that a Pitta type would exude in the bedroom and fully embody being a lesbian – the mindset and conditioning. Show us Anne interacting with others based on her mind-body type – not stereotypes and the past experiences she has had with them.
Anne's rejection of gender norms and how this impacted on her – with her clothing choices, her business dealings, lifestyle choices, in the family and in her marriage. We got a little glimpse into how uncomfortable Anne was in feminine clothing in episode 8, at the dinner table in Copenhagen. She was fidgeting and pulling at her dress. Show us how awkward and uncomfortable she would have been in her own skin, especially when attending balls, weddings and events of the aristocracy. There were social expectations to wear feminine clothing to such events and she wouldn't have felt comfortable conforming in those instances.
A deeper understanding is needed of lesbian traits, thought patterns, feelings, the impact of the conditioning Anne would have experienced at school and in her local community and how this affects how she projects herself to the world – in her behaviours and actions. Whilst a very strong character, the impact of all the judgements, abuse etc is evident. Show us the impact of this on Anne's mental health and mindset. How does Anne Lister deal with Ann Walker's mental health when in public and social engagements? We need to see that.
Suranne would put herself in another league if she embodied the Pitta mind-body type (emotional and mental qualities), really delved into Anne's underlying mental health, the impact of social conditioning and the past hurts she experienced with previous lovers. I want to talk about Anne Lister's relationships, but before I can do that we need to look at Ann Walker's mind-body type.
Looking at portraits of Ann Walker and accounts of her character, Ann is clearly a Vata mind-body type. Here is a brief overview of a Vata mind-body type. She has physical and mental qualities reflecting the elements of space and air. Imagine someone creative, fast and quick thinking. The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cold, irregular, rough, quick, changeable and mobile. Physically, Vata tends to have a thin build, low body weight and struggle to put on weight. Their physical frame is thin and slender. Their face tends to be long and angular. They are either very tall or short. Their hair tends to be curly and dry. Their eyes are small, dry, active and alive. Their nails are breakable, weak and rough. Lips are dry, small and a tendency to bleed when dry. They have dry, rough and cold skin and poor circulation, often suffering with cold hands and feet. They become cold easily. They have sensitive digestion. Vata's are always of the go, with an energetic and creative mind. They are lively and enthusiastic. They have energy in bursts. Lots of energy one minute. Not so much the next. As a result of this, they are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. In order to avoid disease, they need to rest more. Some days they sleep good, others very lightly and with interruptions. They speak a lot and fast, sometimes erratic. They do everything fast and with lightness. Emotionally, Vata move like the wind, love change and are very impulsive. Memory is not their strength. They are quick to anger but also to forgive. They are creative, bursting with ideas and inspiration - usually becoming writers, dancers, inventors or artists. They can be indecisive and need more time and effort when they have to make a decision. They are active, restless, unstable, nervous, fearful and anxious.
What Does This Tell Us About Ann Walker?
Ann moves quickly, talks fast and flutters from idea to idea. She is artistic and a dreamer. Everything she does is quick. She is creative and expressive. She is quick to learn and quick to forget. Enthusiastic & vivacious. She has a clear and alert mind. She is stimulating company, with an amazing intellect. She can make friends easily but with the tendency to superficial conversations they probably do not last long. She tends to have a more flighty way of living. Her energy can be all over the place and she changes her mind often. With no earth element, she can easily become ungrounded. She is always full of ideas, innovation, vision and very open minded to new things. She gets bored easily and restless and will strive to find entertainment in many places. She wants to achieve and push and tends to ignore her limitations with variable spurts of energy throughout the day. Communication is key to her. Without communication, there is no connection. And with no connection comes a lack of stability; always questioning what other people think and say about her. It is important for her to have a strong shoulder to lean on and an open ear to her ever changing story. A home she can come back to that is safe and nurturing is key. Out of balance she is a delicate girl, with nervous illnesses. She becomes tired and/or fatigued. She is forgetful or spaced out. She has a lack of focus. She experiences poor circulation (especially with cold feet and hands). She has feelings of anxiousness. She becomes stressed, nervous and worried. She experiences insomnia, constipation, irrational fears and mania. She tends toward burnout; mentally, emotionally and physically.
SERIES 2 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOPHIE RUNDLE
Sophie to portray Ann's physical and emotional qualities more accurately, based on her mind-body type. She needs to focus on her physicality of the character with the Vata quirks and her emotional flightiness. Ann Walker is easily overwhelmed by Anne Lister. Pitta (fire) overwhelms Vata (wind). More of this please. There is no doubt that Ann will have made sacrifices because of Anne's dominance. I want to see the sacrifices Ann makes for Anne and the impact this has on Ann's mental health and her physical health. How Ann's relationship with her family changes as a result of her marriage. How Ann's status in society changes after her marriage to Anne. The impact of the intense bullying, judgements and abuse that Anne and Ann encounter from the local community. The implications of travelling on Ann Walker – when she marries Anne Lister. As a Vata too much travel is highly disruptive to the mind-body. There is too much 'flight' and air. There is not enough grounding, stability and routine. She specifically gets aggravated when it is cold and dry and the autumn and beginning of the winter cause issues. This will push Ann Walker out of balance and her physical and mental health will suffer. I want to see this play out.
ANNE LISTER AND ANN WALKER'S RELATIONSHIP
Your mind-body type affects how you feel, think, interact and experience love and intimacy in a relationship. Consider all the past relationships YOU have had and how differently you interacted with different mind-body types! For example, a Pitta (fire, intense) and a Vata (wind, airy) interact very differently together than a Vata and a Kapha (earthy, stable, slow).
Anne Lister as a lover is fiery and intense but with low patience. In love she is focused, intense, passionate and all-encompassing. She goes all in or plays her cards close to her chest (nothing in between). As a result, she tends to win and lose big. Either way, she is drawn in by the thrill and challenge of the game. She is passionate in the bedroom and likes to have her needs met. She thinks she is very good in the bedroom, but she could frustrate her partner with her impatience and demanding nature. Once the flood of love starts flowing, the real passion begins. Whilst Anne was a passionate lover there was a calculating and ruthless side to her. She dreamed of having considerable wealth. Money would allow Anne to enjoy the high society lifestyle she craved without marrying a man. She was interested in a relationship with Ann for her money. Ann Walker needs a stable and steady person to help ground her and balance the wild and crazy changes in energy she has. Holding her in a hug calms the initial restlessness she feels. Creating and providing a safe haven to come home to is the greatest gift you can give to Ann. Ann needs constant reassurance and communication is key in a relationship. Without communication, she feels no connection. And with no connection comes a lack of stability and grounding. Making an already flighty person even more so!
What We Can Expect To See In Anne Lister And Ann Walker's Relationship
Anne Lister and Ann Walker had very different emotional needs. Anne Lister is the leader in the relationship. Anne (Pitta) always overpowers Ann (Vata) so Ann needs time away from Anne regularly. For Anne's love to shine, it needs to be met with just the right amount of opposition and surrender. Ann could be seen as high maintenance to Anne Lister. Ann talks a lot. Her plans and thoughts change in an instant. Her energy waxes and wanes. She is sensitive to too much noise and stimulus – it is overwhelming for her. She becomes insecure and questions whether she did something wrong. She needs lots of reassurance. She would come across as scatter minded to Anne. Observing Ann having a few things she is focused on (instead of Anne's one goal) she would see her as distracted, unfocused and unambitious. Ann is worried about her money being spent and needs to have control over it. Her money and possessions make her feel safe. Anne Lister spending Ann Walker's money would put Ann under a great deal of stress, triggering her anxiety. She needs to be appreciated for her actions (such as giving Anne money). Ann needs a calm environment; a stable and predictable home. She needs a partner who spends time with her and is not all over the place. Ann Walker is not adventurous. She prefers to stay at home and too much travel has a negative impact on Ann's mind-body. She needs lots of grounding for her love to flourish. Yet Anne Lister needs space to breathe, to have freedom. She doesn't want to be constricted in any way. Anne Lister must have an open minded partner who can accept her need for change and freedom. As such Ann (Vata) can annoy and aggravate Anne (Pitta) – remember, wind ignites fire.
RELATIONSHIP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SERIES 2
We are not seeing an accurate portrayal of a Pitta-Vata relationship between Anne Lister and Ann Walker. There needs to be more attention paid to Anne and Ann's different mind-body types and how they interact together in a relationship. The power dynamics and expectations in the relationship from both Anne Lister and Ann Walker will shift now they are married. We need to see this shift and interplay between them both. Show us Anne Lister and Ann Walker's different emotional needs. The relationship shouldn't be overly romanticised – since this was not a passionate relationship.
INTIMACY BETWEEN ANNE LISTER AND ANN WALKER
Anne Lister is a passionate lover. In Series 1 this isn't obvious. There was an intensity and passion in the first couple of episodes. But then it felt to dissipate, become lost and diluted after that. In episode 8 we see a few glimpses of it again. Anne is dominant and takes the lead in the bedroom. We know from her mind-body type that she takes control of the intimate moments and is quirky in her sexual approach. We need to see her passion, intensity and we need to see her taking control. Anne is intense. She can be very intimate, forward and direct. She takes the lead when flirting and 'in chase of a lover'. She is cheeky, probing, flirty, seductive and playful. We see this in episode 2 when Ann Walker asks Anne Lister if she has ever wanted to kiss someone. To which she replies "every time I come here." After a little teasing and physically close to Ann now, she is very direct and says "I think you're a little bit in love with me." We need to see more of this. This is her true character. There needs to be a shift from a technical level of intimacy in the bedroom scenes, to a tenderness and level of vulnerability. Anne loves to be sensual and have sensual experiences in the bedroom. This has been missed in the intimate scenes we have observed. We see this clearly in the scene in episode 7 with Mariana. It came across mechanical, unemotional even. Anne had her hand on Mariana's leg after they had sex, and Anne was unaffectionately tapping it as they talked. She pushed her away several times, in a disconnected way. There was no intimacy there. Remember, this is Anne's love of her life, the person she really wants to be with. Based on her mind-body type, she would be more tactile yet fiery with her words and movements, even though she was mentally detached from Mariana in this moment.
INTIMACY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SERIES 2
More intimacy, relevant and specific to Anne Lister and Ann Walker's mind-body type. A shift from technical intimacy to tender and sensual intimacy. Show us lesbian sex scenes that are as close to reality as possible. That's not to say we need to see more skin. I don't think we do. More awareness is needed of what goes on in a same-sex couples' bedroom – especially with a Pitta-Vata relationship. And a move from the mechanical to meaningful. What happens after the thrill of the chase? Anne Lister is married. How does that impact on how she interacts with Ann Walker? What is their level of connection and intimacy like? Does the quality of their conversations change? Hint, yes it does. A Pitta-Vata relationship changes over time, from the early days of dating, through to a more serious committed relationship. How they interact together and how they experience sexual intimacy will change dramatically when they are married and as they spend more time together. Show us this change in behaviour and the resulting power dynamic. How does Anne Lister interact socially with Ann Walker? A lack of public displays of affection and affection in the home from Ann Walker will affect Anne Lister. This will be felt as a rejection from Anne, resulting in a change in dynamics at home. She will likely shut down, be angry and distance herself. Show us this.
SUMMARY Recommendations For Series 2
A deeper level of characterisation based on Anne and Ann's mind-body type. There is so much more they could give and explore in their characterisation of these two iconic women. Suranne to embody the emotional and mental aspects of a Pitta mind-body type and Sophie to embody the physical and emotional aspects of a Vata mind-body type. Accurate portrayal of Anne and Ann's Pitta-Vata relationship, considering their different emotional needs. This shouldn't be overly romanticised – since this was not a passionate relationship. And the dynamics will have shifted now they are married. We need to see this shift. Intimacy needs to be more considered – bearing in mind the mind-body types of Anne and Ann. There needs to be a shift from a technical level of intimacy in the bedroom scenes, to a tenderness and level of vulnerability. Mechanical to meaningful. I highly recommend working with a specialist on lesbian characterisation for Anne and Ann, using mind-body types, and to explore the nuances of a Pitta-Vata committed relationship. The script to reflect Anne Lister's wider life – such as the mountaineering, studies etc. Give us an insight into Anne's inner world through her diary entries. Explore Anne Lister's mental health and the key moments that have affected her throughout her life, including the past hurts from ex-lovers. We need to see the impact of social conditioning on Anne and Anne and the abuse they face after they are married.
About Gina Battye
Gina Battye is a world-renowned LGBT+ Coordinator and Authenticity Director for film, television, theatre and radio as well as an advisor for the global press, Fortune 500s + Leading Global Organisations. In the last four years, Gina has been called on to advise and consult on best practice for heterosexual actors playing LGBT+ characters and to create scenes involving LGBT+ relationships to ensure authentic delivery in film, TV, theatre and radio. Gina created the Playing It Gay Guidelines which are being used by straight actors playing gay characters around the world. Watching Gina at work is mesmerising. Working with actors, directors, celebrities and public figures, Gina has the rare ability to electrify everyone on set whilst delivering original and useful insights that lead to characters blossoming and stepping into their Authentic Self. Gina specialises in creating authentic gay/lesbian characters (using mind-body types), LGBT+ relationships and intimacy, being your Authentic Self, LGBT+ mindset and self-help. Find out more about Gina and her work at www.ginabattye.com/media and chat with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginabattye Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gina.battye Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ginabattye
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