On to the more interesting part of the post: North and South. This is the first period drama I've watched that I actually, honestly enjoyed. They do a good job of depicting the tension between traditional middle class / nouveau riche and upper class / lower class, as well as spatial tension between the North (some place called Millton) and the South (London). The end result is a lot of the closest the British can get to being rude. Additionally, there's a bit of history (but maybe not real history - I didn't look it up) about the rise of unions. Add this to a female lead who doesn't irritate me, and you have a period piece I am really interested in.
Very sparse and quick plot summary: female lead's (Margaret) family moves from London to Millton because the father is annoyed by a new religious edict and leaves the church to become a school master. Female lead goes wandering around getting into trouble because she doesn't understand industrial city life and sees male lead/Byronic hero (John Thornton) while he is screaming at and beating a worker in his factory. He sounds like a jerk, right? Well, worry not. He is upset because the man was smoking a cigarette surrounded by cotton, and John just got back from seeing the wreckage of a fire started in a cotton mill that killed all its workers. After some standard mincing about of feelings on Margaret's part, everyone thinks she reveals her love when she jumps in front of John while his striking workers are threatening the house, because he brought in scabs from Ireland (I really shouldn't like this guy). One worker throw a rock and hits Margaret in the head. (Why, oh why, are brave ladies always getting hit in the head with rocks?) John's mother doesn't like Margaret b/c John does, and she doesn't want to lose him. He finally proposes, and Margaret says no. Through an unlikely series of events, Margaret comes into a bunch of money that is the only thing that can save John from his creditors. Meanwhile, John realizes that on the Night of Scandal when he saw her with some other man at the train station embracing, the man was her brother, and was therefore the Night of Mistaken Identity. He decides he loves her again after pretending not to. They just so happen to meet at a different train station, where she is returning from trying to see him, and he is returning from visiting her childhood home. They don't bother boring you with the inevitable wedding, but they both board the train to go back to Millton together, after he gives her a flower from down south. That doesn't even cover all the subplots and intrigues in the series. I'd highly recommend it.
|Hand-kissing: not just for men.|
The story flips a few gender roles, which I appreciate. She gets to save him from money woes and getting hit in the head with a rock, and he is the one walking in the woods feeling sad. People from different social classes get to be friends in the end, and John isn't as much of a rich jerk as he seems at the beginning. Honestly though, my favorite part was our Byronic hero, John Thornton. Mostly because I love Byronic heroes. I'm not saying I would date one, or that I bewail my long-term relationship with a personable, funny and emotionally-accessible man -- all I'm saying is that even the most predictable movie or series is better with a Byronic hero.