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In late April, The Split premiered as BBC One's freshest dramatic mini-series created by Abi Morgan (Suffragette, The Iron Lady). This time, exploring the depressing world of divorce, we follow the complexity of the characters' platonic and romantic relationships. This left me reassessing not only my own morals but dreams and desires.
I firstly would like to clarify that I do not advocate cheating in any form. Growing up, I had heard numerous times that it isn't always the sex that hurts the most, but the idea that your partner is giving their time to someone else instead of you. I had that thought in bold, glowing letters standing rather obnoxiously in the back of my mind during the series. I personally find that audiences are too easily lost in glittering romances that how they or others may feel about affairs in real life don't matter in their viewing time. Yet I fell into the crowd rooting for Hannah to ditch her husband and return into the arms of her former beau, Christie Carmichael (my sister and I insist on using his full name every time).
Nathan Stern VS Christie Carmichael
I justify my backing of this affair because Nathan Stern proved that the perfect man doesn't actually exist.
Mangan took his good looks and charisma and weaved in Stern's humorous and intellectual personality to portray a respectful but interesting husband for Hannah. It was clear why she wasn't entirely unhappy with her lengthy marriage. Yet when he confessed that his work weekend away in Brussels was more pornographic than professional, I was hurt.
How could he do that to me? I trusted him. He had plenty of opportunities, yet he continued to lie, more than once I would like to add. I even forgave him for grabbing Nina's arse and even signing up to Indiana Ray in the first place. You could say he was my favourite. After moments of sorrow in silence I swiftly moved on to muttering words that I have chosen not to repeat with pure fury in my veins. As he stated in the last episode, he and Hannah had been married their entire adult life. If that meant so much to him, then I cannot begin to comprehend how an affair seemed acceptable.
So as each time Christie Carmichael strutted on screen with a glisten in his grin, he was no longer just the hot blonde around the office.
Christie Carmichael was the one.
The sexual tension between himself and Hannah already had me throwing cushions across the room in frustration. No matter how often I screeched at the TV for the pair to at least embrace in warming hug, nothing came of it but the yearning for what they could have been. I do feel it was tiresome towards the end until she was finally given an excuse to submit.
And I give snaps to Hannah for the way she went about everything too. She knew that having a husband and children for the past twenty-odd years was her priority, like I feel it should be. If you commit to a relationship like that, then you have to persevere before you finally give up. That's what Nathan didn't do. Plus, combining that with her determination to not end up as a reflection of her father showed me that, despite what happened the night before her wedding, she was not selfish.
The final episode ended with Hannah begging Christie Carmichael to choose London over Chicago, choose her over another future. The outcome, for now, is unknown but part of me feels that she's not ready to let Nathan go.
She has built the majority of her life with him but is that enough to stop her continuing the rest of it with another man?
Friends or (De)foes
Recently, during an interview, I was asked: what do you consider your top five core values? That little light bulb flashed above my head as I thought of my family; a clichéd but truthful answer. However, if I had to work beside my mother and sister, I believe it would end up with blood splattered up the walls. So I praise the trio for achieving this for years in an undoubtedly exhausting occupation.
The thing I found particularly intriguing about the programme is that the Defoe family was relatable yet dissimilar to my own. Being raised by a single mother from roughly nine years old with two younger siblings was my situation too. I was the eldest child as well (although half the age of Hannah) and could understand her trivial struggles. I've found myself shrieking "I'm always left to pick up the shit" through an unnecessary amount of tears one too many times. I have been given many responsibilities throughout my childhood that the eldest kid is commonly stuck with, such as babysitting or cooking dinner. But we all know those chores. What us big kids had to really do is essentially be the spokesperson for ourselves and our siblings.
On your biannual visit to grandma's house, it was you who had to do the talking. Or when you'd jump on the bus into town for the day, guess who asked for those three return tickets? It was never a problem but in retrospect, that was something I almost had no choice in doing. I suppose I never had much of an opportunity to be shy.
So when having such a close relationship to my family, I became increasingly vexed at my own lack of morality that continued to distance itself as each new episode aired. I knew all too well the consequences of both having an affair and your partner having an affair. I've watched as the emotions of those I love become irreversibly tangled throughout my childhood, adolescence, and now my adult life.
As I watched the Defoes interact with one another in regards to Nathan's two-timing, Rose's hand slip, Nina's roast, and just Ruth and Oscar in general, it was understandable. They were open to crushing their grudges, no matter how long they had held them.
Most importantly to me was the support the siblings gave to each other when meeting Oscar again. It's not an easy thing to do when your opinions of the man you call Dad differ. You feel the judgement when you choose to rebuild your relationship and the others dismiss the idea. You feel some guilt, especially after you know the immense hurt that one person can cause to an entire family.
But it's okay if you want to see what you could otherwise be missing out on.
And of course with a good, old, relatable 'Dad left Mum for a younger woman' (don't forget to throw in the three kids) situation, how could I not want to watch the show?
It's nothing less of awkward when you and your siblings have different relationships with the same father. I can't begin to imagine how she coped without breaking down from her overwhelming feelings of rejection. I'm a little more forgiving than others and a grudge isn't exactly my cup of tea. Hannah's reactions were all acceptable, according to me. Until we found out that he wasn't as much of a dick as we thought.
As the last scene of episode three came to a close, Ruth was exposed. She had hidden cards, letters, and an assortment of gifts for the past thirty years, that gave the impression that Oscar Defoe completely abandoned his daughters. But the final words spoken in a medium close-up—"He left you. He didn't leave us," made his passing at the end of the series and their growing relationship with their father rather more heartbreaking. If they had known that he was there for them considering he disappeared, perhaps their lives wouldn't have turned out this way.
It's unfortunate that they can no longer make up for lost time.
Hopefully, in the next series, the girls choose not to regret what could have been but to appreciate that they were reunited before he died.
'Till Death Do Us Part
Of course, in our society, nothing is allowed to be just simply enjoyable. The controversy of an unrealistic portrayal of the legal side of divorce pervaded the pages of reviews. From lawyers themselves to those who have been through the painful ordeal, people were mocking the show for its inaccuracies.
I have no opinion to give in these terms as at not quite twenty, I've yet to experience marriage let alone a divorce. All I know is that it's not quick, cheap, or easy.
Personally, I've lost interest in the idea of marrying someone all together. To skip an unneeded long-winded explanation, I just can't really be arsed. As it's no longer a primary goal to us millennials (and the fact that 42% of marriages end in divorce), many of us think that just being with this person is enough. Who, in our generation, can even afford a wedding anyway? It's not like I'm against the concept in general. I just know that my life won't be incomplete without it... or without anyone in fact.
I feel as though Hannah has taught me a little lesson—you've only got one chance at life. And like most tacky tumblr quotes state: happiness is the key to unlocking a well-fulfilled one.
More importantly though, it's what her mother said to her years prior to this that I remember most after my third viewing of the series. During Hannah's speech in celebration of Ruth's seventieth birthday, she quoted her, saying, "The thing you need to know in life is men will come and go. The only relationship really worth having is the one you have with yourself."
When I was younger, I didn't really know what was really important to me. How could I? I had yet to experience the rest of my life. Now in the last months of my teenage years, I've decided to scrap everything I thought I wanted. What matters to me now is a future of happiness. To me, there is no point of looking back in twenty years and wishing I had done other things; there's no redo button.
Like JLS wisely sang ten years ago: "You've only got one shot, so make it count, you might never get this moment again."
Although, that didn't really work out for them, did it?