All Saints: the Beginning

Last year, I griped a lot about just how bad All Saints had gotten in its portrayal of women and women’s issues compared to how it used to be. For Christmas, I got the first and second seasons on DVD. I’m remembering exactly why I loved this show, and why I keep watching it as it gets progressively worse.

For starters, your lead character Terri (Georgie Parker) is a nun. But they rarely play on this. Instead, she’s a highly professional woman who, by the way, just happens to have taken a vow of poverty, chastity and humility. She is a nun, a friend, a boss, a nurse – at least four facets to her personality, all within ten episodes. In one of my favorite scenes, the women are talking about what types of men they find attractive and Terri pipes up something about swimmers, like Kieren Perkins. “What?” she asked when everyone looks at her. “I still have eyes.” It was something I’d never thought about, and AS made an insightful point precicely because it was so obvious as to only need a throwaway comment; she may be morally bound against dating or marrying, but it’s still human nature to find certain types physically attractive.

Then you have married couple Ben and Steph, who have their fights, as all couples do, but none of which involves infidelity. I am so sick of writers and producers having no better way to create tension in a relationship then to go the infidelity route. I also liked that it was Ben who had his heart set on children, not Steph. I think there are far more men out there who are desperate to be parents thAn film and television would lead us to believe, and far less women out there thAn they would lead us to believe.

My favourite character, while she was there, had to be Bronwyn (Libby Tanner), who had a huge capacity to love, but wasn’t settling down for just anyone. In fact, she remained unmarried for the better part of six seasons, something I found impressive. Sure, she dallied with men, but nothing that made her think twice – kind of like the 3, 201 scenarios we’ve seen of men where they can date woman casually without it becoming their only storyline. And even though Tanner is shortish and a redhead with squinty eyes – not exactly meeting the narrow standards of beauty for women – I could totally see why so many men would find her attractive. She’s cute, she’s fun, she’s a loyal friend.

Over the first 15 episodes I’ve seen, the series has covered female genital mutilation, euthanasia, rape, chastity, spouses dying and respecting cultural and spiritual difference, all done while creating and maintaining fleshed-out, realistic characters with believable reactions to scenarios.

Season one is why it’s been so hard for me to accept season nine of All Saints. It’s not so much that it was a crap show with poorly-written characters, but that it was once a great show for fleshed-out characters and dealing head-on with female issues.

Sigh. They don’t make TV like they used to.

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