If you haven’t seen Between the Sheets and don’t want spoilers don’t read this!!!
I’ve been trying to write this post since finishing Between the Sheets earlier this summer. The emotional roller coaster I went on while watching the show has made it hard for me to coherently formulate my thoughts. I’ve finally settled on breaking down my reaction based on the separate emotions the piece stirred within me. This is in no way a comprehensive account of my reaction to the piece. I’m not sure such a thing is even possible, or if I’d even want to attempt it.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Clearly, my interest in the show stemmed from my fangirling over Richard Armitage. The man is sex on legs and I can’t deny that I had some serious visceral reactions to the sex scenes. Watching Paul Andrew’s experiences arousal and pleasure effected me. I watched those scenes with rapt attention. Seeing Paul’s head titled back, mouth open in ecstasy was…shall we say stimulating.
Okay, moving on.
There was a lot about this program that made me cringe. Take Peter for instance. Infidelity was habitual for him and he didn’t seem to have any real concept of the impact it had on his marriage. Or then there was the fact that he supported his family by running strip clubs. It wasn’t the clubs that caused me discomfort, but the way he justified keeping something so important from his wife and children. He lived a double life and everyone surrounding him paid the consequences in some way. His wife, his children…all three of them and Georgia.
Then there was Simon. His attraction to Georgia may have started off innocently enough. In the beginning I actually thought they seemed like the most well adjusted couple on the show. Yeah, I know that isn’t saying much. But once his father became involved in the relationship and Simon was made aware of Peter’s past liaison with Georgia, he quickly became obsessed. She was no longer a woman he desired, but a means to hurting his father. The scene where he went to her home and was so very rough with her during sex disgusted me to the core.
Back to Paul. He was so adamant about his innocence throughout the show. But there was something of an undercurrent with his character that left me feeling dirty. As though he was too insistent. Kind of a “thou dost protest too much” vibe he gave off. He also played the victim card, acting as though he was the injured party because no one believed him. I think anyone who found out their spouse or partner had been accused of something so heinous would at least have to pause and consider the possibility, no matter how much you truly did or at least want to believe in their innocence. In the end I wasn’t so much shocked that he’d actually committed the acts he had been accused of. Rather, I couldn’t believe he finally gave voice to the truth.
Audrey was by far my favorite character in the whole mini-series. She was so open and honest. She had no qualms about sharing her thoughts and feelings about issues that so many are embarrassed to discuss. Her willingness to be unfettered helped her daughter-in-law begin to work through her own issues. Over all, she was a beacon of light in a rather bleak drama.
Then there was Audrey’s daughter-in-law, Hazel. Up until the very end I was so encouraged by the journey that Hazel took. She knew there were problems in her marriage and with her own sexuality. While reluctant and embarrassed at first, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the path of self discovery she traveled down. She may have cringed at the idea of the therapy sessions and homework, but she gave it her best shot, to try and improve her life.
Writing about Hazel seems like a great entry into frustration. I wanted to throw something at the television when she went home. In general, my religious background makes me inclined to want to see married couples work things out, but when Hazel chose to remain with her husband, I pictured her life a month, a year from that point. All I could see was her in the same place she’d been before. Like she was settling for the status quo in order to make everyone else happy.
I also found myself having a hard time feeling anything but frustration with the character of Alona. She worked as a sex therapist, but her own life was a mess. Yes, Paul turned out to be a douche bag. However, her main interest in him seemed to be the sex, not making love, not in him as a person even, but in his ability or lack there of to satisfy her physical desires. She was still in love with her deceased husband and Paul was just a stand in.
Alona’s character also made me angry. Watching as she tried to work with her patients was maddening. Half the time she didn’t listen to them because she was so caught up in her own life. I understood that she had some serious issues to deal with, but shouldn’t she have know that she couldn’t perform her job properly and referred her patients on to someone else? These people came to her for help and she didn’t give them her all. That’s simply unacceptable from a health professional.
I was angry with Peter pretty much every time he was on screen. The man seemed to think he could fix things with expensive gifts and flattering words. He didn’t understand that the past can’t just be brushed under the table, but has a profound effect on the present and the future.
Poor Tracy. I’ve seen too many kids in my life that come from bad backgrounds or have mental illnesses. They are so often written off as trouble makers and liars. The one person Tracy was supposed to be able to turn to, her advocate, took advantage of her. Used her in the worst possible way and then tossed her aside and told the world she was a liar. It was really no wonder that she felt she had no where to turn, no one to help her. When that banner, “I told the truth,” came onto the screen. Her body broken below the bridge. I cried at the injustice of it all.
Yes, I’m listing fury as a separate category from anger. Paul’s confession at the end left me boiling. I honestly was pissed off that the show didn’t show any real repercussions for his actions. I wanted to see him suffer for what he had done to Tracy. She took her own life because of his actions and lies. I couldn’t even begin to formulate how severe his punishment would need to be. But it wasn’t even just Tracy’s life that he had damaged irreparably. I may not have liked Alona, but she had Kieran to think of. Kieran, who it seemed had only just begun to warm to Paul. I’m sure he was going to be an even bigger handful to deal with after all of this. And then their was their little girl. How do you even begin to explain to your daughter that daddy has to go away because he’s a pedophile who is responsible for the death of a girl.
I’m sure I could list several more emotions that I felt throughout viewing Between the Sheets, but this gives a pretty good picture of my reaction to the program. While I can’t imagine wanting to watch this again, I do think it was a well made program, the wide array of emotions I went through and the way it made me think providing proof of that.
As far as Richard Armitage’s performance goes, he did a wonderful job of making me despise Paul. With the exception of maybe Heinz Kruger, I can’t really say that about any other character. I loved Guy of Gisborne, even at his nastiest and even with Kruger, the role was so brief, that my dislike was fleeting as opposed to the intense, lingering anger I felt towards Paul. So, bravo Mr. A. If the goal was for Paul Andrews to be a real asshole, you succeeded admirably.