A Plethora of Emotions: Watching Between the Sheets

If you haven’t seen Between the Sheets and don’t want spoilers don’t read this!!!

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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.

Pleasure/Arousal:

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.

Discomfort:

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.

Encouraged:

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.

Frustration:

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.

Anger:

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.

Heart break:

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.

Fury:

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.

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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.

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20 thoughts on “A Plethora of Emotions: Watching Between the Sheets

  1. The old lady was a hoot. Her honesty was delightful. Hazel was my favorite character. I also hated to see her going back to her husband, fearing it would be more of the same. I Thought it was a very brave performance on the part of Brenda Blythn and kudos to her.

    Alona irritated the hell out of me. I’ve only seen this actress in two roles and I heartily disliked her character in both series. I think she was the proverbial shoemaker whose kids are running around barefooted. She was piss-poor at her job IMHO. Obviously she never saw Paul as more than a boy toy there to satisfy her sexual needs.

    I question whether or not he would have acted out in the manner he did if Paul and Alona’s relationship had been less toxic? Who knows. As a couple, they were a train wreck waiting to happen.

    I do have to say I also question whether or not he could truly be sonsidered a pedophile, as they usually prefer children somewhat younger than Tracy was (and she also looked very mature).

    Understand me, I am not condoning what he did in any way or justifying it. It is always reprehensible when a person in a position of authority or trust takes advantage of those over whom they should be watching and caring for.

    But it seemed to me it was more of the case of a morally weak and somewhat immature man in need of attention, of an ego boost, of someone to :”make me feel like a man.” What happened to the troubled Tracy was truly a tragedy. And his actions also impacted his own child, who already is stuck with a mother who seems too self-absorbed to give her children the proper nurturing they need. She, for me, is the biggest surviving victim of Paul’s abuse of his position.

    Since BTS was a series, I have wondered if the repurcussions of Paul’s actions would have been explored had there been a second series commissioned. It’s a possibility.

    As I said in the title of an early post I did on BTS–definitely controversial role.

    • On the issue of Paul and Alona, I really don’t care how horrible she was as a partner, I can’t fault her in Paul’s dealings with Tracy. He was a grown man who made a choice to behave a certain way. If he was that desperate for attention from a woman, he could have sought that out from an age appropriate woman who didn’t have mental issues. Instead he took the easy, cowardly path and preyed upon a young girl who looked up to him in a way that probably bordered on hero worship at some point. If anything the fact that he used Tracy to fulfill his perceived needs makes him seem like an even viler creature to me. Weak and immature, sure. But 100% culpable for his own behavior.

      • I am not saying there is any justification for what he did. There isn’t. I just think their relationship didn’t help matters any. They both had a lot of issues to deal with. And yes, maybe it’s in large part the fault of the script and my innate dislike of the actress that makes me think so. This is one of those instances where I would really likely to pick RA’s brain about his thoughts on the character and his backstory and his future (same thing with John Mulligan).

        • I didn’t think you were trying to justify what he did. For me I just have issues saying that if Alona had treated him better, he wouldn’t have had that relationship with Tracy or might not have. People cope with horrible relationships every day, and most are able to deal without resorting to sexual favors teenagers.

          I can’t agree with you more about picking RA’s brain about this role. I would be very interested to see how he viewed Paul. If he saw him as a victim in some way. I suspect he probably tried to find the good in Paul like he does with all of his characters.

          • I think he probably did.
            We know he looks for the good in the bad, and the bad in the good. Which certainly does make the performances more compelling.

            And I forgot to mention the Parks guy. I think he did truly care for Hazel. I was sorry things happened the way they did for him, although when you get involved with a married person, you know you are running such risks. I did like that character.He had a sweetness about him. As I mentioned, there were not a great many characters here that I did like or at least didn’t have really conflicted feelings over. And perhaps that was the intention of the scriptors?

  2. servetus

    Interesting. I intentionally stay out of these discussions because I’ve had a draft review of Armitage’s performance in this floating around for about eighteen months, and I never finish it and never publish it. Maybe you will finally get me to do so. I absolutely agree with you about Audrey going back to her husband (and I was [also?] raised to believe that marriage is forever and people are supposed to stay together no matter what). I honestly don’t believe people change that much.

    One thing we would probably agree on is there were massive script problems here in terms of creating credibility in characters for the actors to work with.

    • I hope you do eventually publish your post about this show. I know I’m interested in your thoughts and I’m sure I’m not alone.

  3. Pingback: Legenda 44: Stuff worth reading « Me + Richard Armitage

  4. Teuchter

    I have lots of comments I could make about all the characters but let me just confine them to Alona and Paul. I found Alona’s character truly annoying – so much so that I find I have the same reaction to Julie Graham no matter what program she is in. I know this shouldn’t be the case but I can’t seem to get over it. Without going into how reprehensible Paul’s actions were, one statement he made stuck with me. After admitting to his actions he said, “She wanted me” or words to that effect. Don’t get me wrong, that is no excuse for what he did, but as has been said already, it also made me wonder if their relationship had been better and he had felt “wanted” by Alona would he have been so easily tempted? Alona took him for a partner but by her words and actions seemed bent on emasculating him on so many occasions. In the end I got the impression she only seemed sorry for herself and was quite oblivious to what anyone else was going through.

    • I have the same problem with JG, Teuchter. She played a very unsympathetic character, conniving, greedy and manipulative, in At Home with the Breathwaites–the first thing I saw her in–and then I found Alona so off-putting I simply have no desire to see her in anything else. It’s odd, because, for example, I didn’t like Alun Armstrong’s character here and certainly not in Sparkhouse, yet I still enjoy him very much as an actor in other things. But I won’t watch anything else withh Julie Graham in it. *shrugs shoulders* There weren’t a lot of characters I actually did like in BTS, come to think of it.

      • Teuchter

        I saw her recently in episodes of both “Rebus” (not sure if this has been shown in the US) and also in “Doc Martin” and I still found her unlikeable! I love both shows so didn’t want to miss them just because she was in them!

        BTW – for those unfamiliar with “Rebus” it is based on books by Ian Rankin and filmed in Edinburgh so every now and then you see locations that appeared in N&S!! (Now if Mr Thornton would just make an appearance! :D) Rebus, a detective, is played by Ken Stott – “Balin” in The Hobbit – and he is terrific in the part!

        • I’ve seen some eps of Rebus but not Doc Martin. I do like it and Ken Stott quite a lot and am looking forward to his performance in TH. If JG was a guest star on a series, I could muddle through it, but not every ep. There was a show called Survivors in which she was one of the stars that ran on BBCA here and I just couldn’t watch it. 😦

          • Teuchter

            I would have thought it would have been the other way around. I’ve watched Doc Martin on PBS which comes to us from Seattle but have only seen Rebus on Knowledge Network, our local public broadcaster here in BC. Coincidentally JG is in an episode of Doc Martin that is airing here at this very moment! I saw it previously on PBS so that’s why I’m not glued to the screen! 🙂

            Dominic Minghella who you will remember was lead writer and executive producer of the Series 1 and 2 of RH, is the creator of Doc Martin and it’s a brilliant show. I hope you’ll get a chance to see it sometime. The beautiful scenery alone, in and around Port Isaac, Cornwall (known as Port Wenn in the series) makes it worth watching! Check it out on Youtube!

            • I think Rebus might have aired on BCCA at one point and that’s when I saw it. Some Brit shows have been on A&E in the past. I don’t think Doc Martin has ever aired here. I don’t watch much of anything on YT because everything has to buffer with this darned connection and it’s a pain in the neck, so I will see if it’s available on Netflix.

    • The Alona and Paul relationship was clearly an unhealthy one. I think with a better script we would have seen that Paul was probably just as likely to behave as he did, even if circumstances had been better. But clearly that view is just conjecture.

      Jumping into the conversation about Julie Graham in other shows, I’ve seen her on Doc Martin. Her character was unlikable there as well, but she was supposed to be. I’d like to see her in something where we are actually meant to cheer for her character and see how she fairs there.

  5. Bollyknickers

    I’m glad Servetus included this in her Legenda this week – i’ve been dying to discuss BTS since I saw it last year but thought i’d missed the boat! Lots of food for thought here… I found it interesting that you thought Peter was hiding the truth about the clubs from his family; I thought Hazel was complicit in that deception. She had last visited the clubs years beforehand and had pronounced them seedy. But she was happy enough to lead a very comfortable lifestyle funded by those clubs. I think she quite intentionally didn’t ask too many questions because if she had known the direction the clubs had taken she would have either had to condone them or make a stand that could impact on her standard of living. It was easy for her to sneer whilst busying herself with her lovely home, her daughters lavish wedding and her charity work. As for Peter, well he had an affair which was wrong – Georgia was an employee and I think that power differential has been largely overlooked. Perhaps we don’t see Georgia as a victim in the same way we see Tracy, or maybe the Georgia/ Peter story is one we are all too familiar with so it barely rates a mention. On the other hand, Georgia knew she was having a relationship with a married man – she thought he would leave Hazel and didn’t seem to have any conscience about that. I think she used the affair and the child as a way of making sure Peter never sacked her – perhaps that’s why he promoted her or perhaps he genuinely wanted to make sure she and his child were financially stable. Peter did see money as a way of solving all problems but I think that had been his expected role over the years. I think a lot of men of his generation think it is their role to provide materially for their families, but are unable or unwilling to commit emotionally. However, Peter was loyal to Hazel – he could have left her for Georgia but he didn’t and going to counselling would be enormously confronting for him. I think he really loved Hazel but didn’t know what to do to make her happy. As for Hazel – well her problems stemmed from abuse in childhood. I loved her journey and in many ways admired her but can’t help feeling the whole family would have been happier if she had addressed her issues earlier. I also felt the poor Parks and wildlife man was horribly used and discarded. Alona – controlling and totally self absorbed; what a bad combination. I think Paul’s weakness suited her – she was able to run the whole Alona show without too much resistance. When he did resist, she was vile to him – blaming him and justifying her position with absolutely no self awareness. And finally Paul….what he did to Tracey was inexcusable. The only decent thing he could have done was to own up from the outset. But he didn’t and then one lie led to another as he dug himself deeper. I think fear of being sacked was secondary to his fear of Alona’s reaction – he said he didn’t want to be a probation officer any more so I think he could have coped with being struck off if he thought he could keep his family together. I thought RA’s performance was brilliant – as you said he played the victim card to the hilt but also injected something that left me wondering if he really was as innocent as he made out. I was surprised he confessed but I think that might have been an indication he did have at least a shred of a conscience – too little too late – and that, in that moment at least,he couldn’t live with the guilt.

    • servetus

      It’s too bad that Callie’s blog is now private — there was a great discussion there on BTS. Frenz also posted a review some time ago — in which she disagreed with a lot of the stuff that had been said at Callie’s. It’s here:

      http://rafrenzy.com/2010/10/14/diary-of-an-ra-fan-part-22-objects-may-appear-larger-than-they-are-spoilers-2/

      For me, problem number one was that the script appeared to make Alona culpable in what Paul did to Tracey. Not only does that raise all kinds of ethical hackles with me, it doesn’t square with what I believe to be the consensus of research regarding sexual molestation of minors.

    • Bollyknickers, I’m so glad you found a place you share your thoughts about BtS!

      I do think Peter was intentionally hiding the direction his clubs had taken from Hazel. However, I think you are absolutely right when you say that Hazel was willfully ignorant. She didn’t want to know. As far as her house and possessions go, she was comfortable and she was afraid of what rocking the boat would do to the life she knew.

      Georgia made a choice to have an affair with a married man. And throughout the production she carried herself with such confidence, that I always got the impression that she knew exactly what she was getting herself into. Perhaps that is why I don’t really perceive her as a victim.

      I didn’t address the Parks and Wildlife man, but I felt badly for him as I watched the show. He knew he was getting involved with a married woman, so in some ways I felt like he should have seen what happened coming. However, he seemed to have genuine feelings for her that got trampled when she returned to her Peter.

      It is interesting, your thoughts that Paul couldn’t live with the guilt, so he confessed. I can see that being his motivation. He was a weak man and even then, he wanted someone else to help him carry the weight of what he had done.

  6. This a lot late, but can I ask something? All of you that watched it, was from the DVD? Because I’m dying to watch – I’m trying to watch the more I can of Richard – but this one it’s hard to find, and the dvd is not selling here in Brazil…:/ Anyone knows where I can find it? Thanks!

  7. Pingback: Richard Armitage, Paul Andrews, and gender trouble in Between the Sheets [Spoilers for the whole series; frank sex talk] | Me + Richard Armitage

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