Gentleman Jack: A Celebration of History & Feminism

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Sophie Rundle (left) and Suranne Jones (right) star together in this riveting new HBO series.

Any prior notions you may have had about the 1800s will be transcended by Sally Wainwright’s powerful new television series. This riveting 8-episode series has swept the world and captured the attention of many, leaving us hungrily eager for the next installation. Gentleman Jack, which stars Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, is set in 1832 in rural Yorkshire, England. The show does a fantastic job painting the picture of Anne’s life, her loves, and her beauty. To me, it is a homage long overdue. I’ve read Anne Lister’s exquisite real diaries, and am thrilled she is finally getting the screen time she deserves. 

Gentleman Jack does an impeccable job capturing Anne’s resilience, bravery, and wit- especially in an age when a woman’s strength was scorned. Not only was Anne Lister openly a lesbian, she also owned land, incorporated a mine, and ran the affairs of her home, Shibden Hall. 

Gentleman Jack is based off of the true romance between Lister and Walker, at a time when homosexuality was opposed and punishable by death. As a gay woman myself, I was immediately inspired by this film and cheered on the two heroines from the beginning. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to hide one’s sexuality, and I admire Lister for being unapologetically herself. Jones does a fantastic job playing the role of Anne, especially in the emotionally-charged scenes between herself and Rundle. She demonstrates Lister’s fiery personality and stubbornness in such a perfect light, and allows viewers to empathize with her on a deeper level. 

Although the nature of homosexuality and repression is a large key in the plot, audiences of all ages, genders, and orientations can fall in love with this series. Gentleman Jack is action-packed, courageous, and offers a unique look into 19th century Britain. To my history buffs, you will fall in love with the lush scenery, grand homes, and my personal favorite- the incredible costumes. They are extremely historical accurate, which is an impressive feat for any film studio. Many of the characters wear authentic corsets and intricate hairstyles accurate to the time period. It’s truly a treat for both the eyes and the heart.

Gentleman Jack is available for streaming on Hulu and HBO, and has officially been renewed for a second season. You can catch up with Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle on their social media, @suranne_jones and @sophiesophierundle respectively.


Coming up next: My Hair History

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