Downton Abbey is wrapped up with a bow (perhaps a little too perfectly, but I’m not going to complain about how happy the series finale made me). Obviously we all need SOMETHING British with fancy gowns and drama to watch, yes? Let me assure you that Poldark is that something.
Here’s why it’s worth watching:
1. The costuming. I am convinced that this is the era for me. Sure, there’s no antibiotics and you might die of the Putrid Throat, but THE BALL GOWNS ARE FANTASTIC. Pros and cons.
2. The whole guy-loses-everything-but-climbs-his-way-out premise. The protagonist, Ross Poldark, returns from the American Revolutionary War to find his ladylove engaged to someone else, his father deceased, and the family estate in ruins. He’s a generally noble character while still being complex and interesting. He’s not exactly a “nice” guy. He’s ornery, angsty, makes serious mistakes and moral missteps. He is by no means flawless, but he does have a moral compass and sense of honor. He aims to not only improve his own fortune but also improve the economic troubles of the common man in his community.
Played by Aidan Turner, friends of mine didn’t nickname him “Poldark and handsome” for nothin’. But I cant say his acting is amazing, especially in the first couple of episodes. It took me awhile to forget that he was one of the dwarves in Peter Jackson’s most recent Tolkien atrocity (why make it THREE movies? With made up lady elves from Lost?! Moving on.)
He’s the lead, but I think he’s actually one of the weaker actors in the cast. He’s completely outshone by….
3. DEMELZA! The feisty pauper turned Ross’s kitchen maid is just the BEST. She’s endearing and good-hearted and sassy. What a great character. The stunning actress, Eleanor Tomlinson also played Georgiana Darcy in the recent Death Comes to Pemberley film. But her character is so different that I didn’t recognize her. Really this should be reason #1. Demelza. Demelza is everything.
4. Demelza’s hair. Yes, it really does deserve it’s own spot. I mean look at it.
5. The sudden wedding plot twist! I won’t go into detail to prevent spoilers but I was not expecting this and it was awesome.
6. Verity. Played by Ruby Bentall who was fantastic in Lark Rise to Candleford and The Paradise (can you tell I have a British costume drama problem?), Verity brings some sweetness to balance out lots of intense characters. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with her?
7. The Ross/Demelza romance. Instead of love at first sight, Ross and Demelza fall in love partly because of the friendship that emerges as they partner together in the work of life. “We get on together,” Ross says. While I wouldn’t say they have a perfect relationship by any means, they fell in love by living life together and developing mutual respect. They’re a team, not infatuated teenagers. And it makes for a deep and interesting romance.
8. The cathartic tears that will fall when watching the last episode. The tears WILL fall.
So if you need some post-Downton British costume drama in your life, Poldark is for you. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime (which has a 30 day free trial btw), but Season 2 won’t be available until the fall so just warning you. You will writhe in agony when it’s over and Season 2 isn’t a click away. Or at least I did.
If you want more recommendations of this sort, my podcasting co-host Christy and I did an entire episode on all the obscure British miniseries ever made. (You’re welcome.)
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.