• PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Vial Treatment: Gaslighting and Sisterhood in Sanditon

    Gaslighting is the through line and ultimate source of tension in season two of Sanditon. This psychological manipulation is present in Captain Lennox’s abuse of Mr. Parker’s trust and the financial entrapment that threatens to sap Sanditon dry, one more in a series of towns he has plundered and left. It occurs in the final episode where Lennox attempts to manipulate Colbourne into feeling a disproportionate amount of guilt for his marriage with Lucy before her affair with Lennox. But the largest perpetrator in the series–to the degree that even Lennox condemns him as a “disgrace”–is, unsurprisingly, Edward Denham. The prevalence of this theme throughout the second season comes at…

  • Romcom

    Old Maids and Mind Games in Austenland

    Jerusha Hess’ Austenland (2013) centers on Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a thirtysomething Jane Austen devotee who is having difficulty in the dating world. The audience is led to believe that Jane’s primary problem is her all-consuming love for Austen’s romantic stories. In one scene, Jane is watching BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with her date. He nibbles provocatively at her neck while she’s distracted by the sight of a sodden Colin Firth walking onto the banks of the lake on his Pemberley estate. Austenland follows Jane as she decides to become her own Austen heroine in a last-ditch effort to exchange modern spinsterhood for a love story written only…