Monday, December 17, 2018

Let's Talk about The Paradise

I love period dramas. I grew up on them and I am excited to raise our little Hobbit on them. However, not all period dramas are created equal. Recently I finished watching the first season of the period drama show The Paradise (2012-2013). I enjoyed it for the most part but it really drove me crazy for much of it.
Here's the synopsis from PBS to give you an idea about the show if you haven't watched it.
Denise Lovett may look the part of a country bumpkin when she arrives penniless and in search of work at the doors of The Paradise, Britain’s glamorous first department store. But before long, intoxicated by the potential of the modern world, she will turn her ambitious and inspired eye to the store’s ladieswear department, meanwhile catching the eye of the shop’s dashing and reckless owner, John Moray, a grieving widower with a secret.
Spoilers following.
Historically the show is pretty cool. The contrast between the big fancy department store and the little individual shops that had been the normal for so long was fascinating. It was definitely an era of change. The protagonist, Denise, is enterprising and clever with a vision for the future, much like Moray, the owner of The Paradise, where she works. It's no wonder they are attracted to each other. Moray however has been paying court to Lady Katherine Glendenning, who is quite infatuated with him. Moray however, is unsure if he's ready for a commitment since the death of his wife.
So let me talk about the characters here. Moray annoyed me a lot of the show. I'll admit he's quite attractive and not to mention he's charismatic. It's no wonder everyone loves him. However, he CANNOT make up his mind about Katherine! He goes back and forth, which was really unfair to her and honestly to himself as well. This brings me to Katherine. I did not love her but what he put her through still was not fair. I feel like the show made her more and more unlikable so you could forgive Moray for leaving her at the altar. Sorry, that does not make it ok. They both put each other through a lot of crap and it was annoying. Now Denise definitely tried to stick to the higher ground through all of this but still failed, though not as epically as the other two.
In the end, when Moray runs away from his wedding into Denise arms and kisses her I was happy they ended up together but I felt like it was so bittersweet. Like yay you're together but at what cost? Same for you Katherine! You're plan is you get Moray even though you know he is not in love with you?! Really?! The whole love triangle just drove me crazy.
What drove me the most crazy is that I read the synopsis for the first episode of the second season and Moray and Denise are NOT together at the beginning of it! It makes me not want to watch it since this season ended on a good note. I'll just have to go through a whole other season of drama as they try to get together. This season was bad enough!
Past all of that though the story was fascinating and as I said above the whole world it focuses on is intriguing. The characters are fun and there's many little side plots going on that keep you watching. There were lots of great other characters I haven't even gotten around to mentioning! One of the more interesting charters I found was Katherine's father. If you're a fan of period dramas you'll also see many familiar faces such as David Bamber, (Pride and Prejudice 1995) Matthew McNulty (who plays the only level headed one in the show) (Lark Rise to Candleford), Sarah Lancashire (Lark Rise to Candleford), Ruby Bentall (Lark Rise to Candleford), Arthur Darvill (Little Dorrit, Dr. Who) and Olivia Hallinan (Lark Rise to Candleford). There's probably more familiar names I'm missing.
Interestingly enough the show is based off of a book by Emile Zola. I haven't been in love with what I've read of his books so far but I might be interested in this one.
If you've seen it what did you think? Is it worth it for me to watch the next season or should I leave well enough alone?

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was frustrated by this! I read the book by Zola first, and what bothered me most about the TV show was how it was "dumbed down." In the book, Moray is something of a predator, and Denise is really a vulnerable young woman struggling to make ends meet. I understand the TV show was written to be more lighthearted, but it kind of undermines the actual conflicts people were going through in the 19th century.

    1. Wow! Interesting. I'd kind of be interested in reading the book. I wasn't a huge fan of what I've read of Zola so far but I'd like to give him another chance someday.

  3. H!!

    I know, it's been forever, but I want to be more active this year, so yay!

    I have seen the entire series for The Paradise and like it quite a bit. I'm especially fond of Denise and I do like Moray a lot just because he's such a visionary. I feel like they both made wise choices at the end of the 1st season and just wish it hadn't taken them so bloody long to do so.

    The 2nd season deals with some harder topics and is a bit, for lack of a better word, kinkier. Katharine is married now, but to a rather serious control-freak, which is a shame because I do pity her quite a bit in the 1st season, even though I never liked her. There's also a French gal who's an old associate of Moray's that comes into the picture and let's just say that gender doesn't really matter to her when she's attracted to someone.

    In my opinion, the series ends well, albeit a bit abruptly, but the 2nd season isn't really as family friendly. No untoward scenes are really filmed, but enough is suggested that it frustrated me. I wanted to love it more than I did and I wish it's a series that I could have whole-heartedly recommended.

    But I have watched the entire series twice, so I guess that says something. I'm mostly a sucker for the era and for the birth of the department store and such pretty things!

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