Last but not least.
For me personally, I should say this year was the year of the small screen revelations. The non feature as not been a consistent part of my universe as films are so this is why this year is special, of course it helps the fact that this year was great and like a culmination of a certain tendency – with Netflix, with many filmmakers heading to the small screen, with shows like Orphan Black and so on. I still haven’t seen so so so many shows.
It is no surprise I finish the year with yet another small screen gem, it is called Last Tango in Halifax.
A posh looking family drinks tea at a fancy place, while a not so posh family arrives to their home, a farm in the middle of nowhere, taking their groceries from the supermarket. But they have something in common, as the elderly woman drinking her tea with her daughter and grandson and the elderly man helping her daughter and his grandson with the groceries share history together and happened to meet on Facebook very recently with the help of their grandsons. They are Celia and Alan and they are childhood buddies and used to like each other when they were teenagers. Apparently they really liked each other.
As Celia’s daughter Caroline struggles a career as a school principal, with two teenagers and a cheating husband, Alan’s daughter Gillian works peacefully at the farm and at the local supermarket, also trying to cope with her teenage son’s growing up and her past.
Alan and Celia meet, and by the end of the first episode they’re engaged - to which Caroline says “Whatever.” From this point on it is pretty undeniably irresistible to not watch this show. You know from the start it will be an amusing ride.
In this glorious first season you laugh a lot but what I truly love about this show is how sober and honest it is. These are real people; the creator gives us authentic portraits and real life experiences. After all, the story of Halifax is based on his mother, who re-married at the age of 75. It is so entertaining and true. And it is really funny.
I admired this show for various reasons. It is great to have these perspectives from the elderly; it is not often that we get to have these stories and they are revealing and important and always so interesting. Then we have their daughters, flawed women in their forties coping with many things at the same time, as they usually do.
Let me focus on one - Caroline is one of the great characters. She’s a forty five year old woman, with a big career, separated from her husband because he keeps disappointing her, having an affair with another woman, taking care of her teenage sons, worrying about her mother and trying to juggle all of this together.
There are a lot of things I love about Caroline, but the biggest one for me is how she fights back, she just keeps fighting. She won’t back down, even though she’s being forced to; she won’t put her head down, even though she’s so tired. And even when she does, she comes back and keeps fighting. She won’t give in to blackmail; she will mouth that person off in the most glorious way possible.
Sod off, you little prick, do you really think you can humiliate me? Go for it, genius, spread a few rumours, it’ll say more about you than it ever will about me; this is 2012! I’m single, she’s single, we’re adults, we had a fling: the ladies have landed! Quite a long time ago, in fact; get over it! She spoke to you because she was upset and this is how you respond. Bad move. And shame on you as well. Leave the door open on your way out.
She’s not perfect, not at all perfect, but she knows it. Above all, the creator writes someone who is intelligent and vulnerable, with various layers defining her and her current position in life and who is filled with wit. It is in my view a really great performance by Sarah Lancashire. She’s authentic, and then she is simultaneously hilarious and dramatic. She’s great. You can see she understands this woman, she’s absolutely committed to her and in result she’s credible. And she kisses amazingly. That’s, you know, the confidence that comes with age, it’s the life experience. With this, I could say the same things about the other characters. I love the fact that the teenage boys worry about their mothers. I love the fact that they don’t want them to get hurt.
Celia to Caroline: "You're perfect."
Caroline to Celia: "So are you."
Celia: "No I'm not."
Caroline: "I think you are. (Pause) Well, you're not, but you're very entertaining."