WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A young and impulsive woman moves to the fishing village of Sanditon, which is about to reinvent itself as a seaside resort and fashionable playground for the British elite. Based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Book purists will always have some complaint or other about film and TV adaptations about their favourite novels - especially when it comes to classics like Jane Austen’s collection. This is why adapting the famous writer’s unfinished novel into a TV series is so brilliant - they can stick to the book up until Austen wrote it, and then just do whatever they want with the characters and no one can object. While they aren’t the first to complete the novel, it is interesting how much more salacious Sanditon is compared to other of Austen’s adaptations.
It follows a young countrywoman - Charlotte Heywood - invited to stay at an up-and-coming seaside resort town with the fanatic entrepreneur trying to build it into the next Brighton. During Britain’s sad excuse for summer, she meets an array of gentlemen and ladies, and other less prominent individuals, with many hidden agendas, and finds herself overwhelmed by her presumptions and prejudices.
Sanditon manages a great balance between die-hard Austen fans and those just looking for some British period dramas in their lives, filled with the frivolous social games of Britain’s elites dressed in fancy attire.
In the parts that go beyond the unfinished manuscript, they still retain that feel of a Pride and Prejudice story. Sidney Parker might as well be a more suave reincarnation of Mr Darcy, while Charlotte is as opinionated and headstrong as Elizabeth, sprinkled with a little more tact and decorum when she has to be.
Other characters, however, like Lady Denham and her nieces and nephew Edward, Esther and Clara, have been revamped into more scandalous individuals with sex in mind, which might just rise the ire of more hardcore fans. For those of us who aren’t, however, it makes Sanditon a lot more exciting to watch.
But the show is definitely not the new Downton Abbey. It’s the kind of filler show that’s fun to binge where you can escape into a world of curtsies and men playing cricket in top hats, but you’ll probably forget about it as soon as you’re done. It’s quite similar in style and execution of plot to Hulu’s Harlots - a far superior historical drama with no shame about sex - yet has that BBC stiffness we all love in our British shows.
There are some familiar faces in the cast - an aged Kris Marshall from My Family fame plays the energetic Tom Parker, and the obnoxious wannabe Mr Darcy is surprisingly played by Theo James from the catastrophic Divergent franchise. He’s pretty to look at, but again falls into that broody, misunderstood archetype that he seems to have cultivated in his previous performances - not that it’s the worst thing. Charlotte is played Rose Williams, hailing from the Reign series, and despite her sweet and tangy performance she never gets too sickly sweet. She holds her own as the main character and will make you fall in love with her in every episode.
And the most surprising character of all is Esther, played by Charlotte Spencer. Her performance is infused with grace and wit, and this brilliant acting is coupled with the best character development of them all. She’s a Game of Thrones Jamie-character where you might hate her at first, but in the end, all you want is for her to be happy and as far away from her sibling as possible.
Sanditon is not a great show by any measure - but you won’t be mad spending your time on it. A sexy Jane Austen universe with an unexpected cliffhanger for season one, you will be tempted to return for a second season - if you remember it.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: