Anne Lister, the subject of is regarded as ‘the first modern lesbian’ and, as depicted here, she was a deliciously bad woman disastrous circumstances of Hastings and the loss of the alluring Vere Hobart by capturing the younger woman’s heart, believing she has found the woman to fulfil her romantic dreams.
Gentleman Jack really is Wainwright’s dryly comic inversion of the typical Regency romance convention centred on a rich hero and the woman who will become his wife, and the idea of the guarantee of a “happily ever after” ending — that promise of a future between the heroine and the hero, often in the form of marriage or a proposal.
She overlaps it with the tropes of the marriage of convenience, the notion of scandal and the forbidden in which a heroine breaks society’s rules, compromising situations, and finally perhaps the convention of the bad boy — in this case a deliciously bad woman, flaunting empowerment in her dominant fashion and challenging gender stereotypes.
And hardly giving it a thought as she gets on with things. If impatiently: “I always wonder if you are running and not travelling,” a lover says to her. “From a world that only sees how odd you are and not how clever you are.” Her considered and thoughtful reply: “I think the only thing I’m running from is the banal; the banal and mediocrity are the only things that have ever really frightened me.”
Jones is wonderful as Lister, black clad and striding through the series in a top hat atop her tight, black ringlets and greatcoat, a performance of such energy and charisma she dominates the show in much the same way Lister must have dominated her world. I’ve just caught up with the bingeable The Typist on SBS On Demand, which continues to provide outstanding viewing even if the advertising breaks are still cack-handed in their execution and annoying in their placement. Surely we could get rid of the food channel and concentrate on these fine foreign language offerings?