What are my favorite romantic scenes between women? Thank you for asking. It’s Carol telling Therese she’s available over drinks at the start and end of Carol, Yorkie and Kelli driving off at the end of San Junipero (I choose to believe that’s a happy resolution), and I’d put The L Word’s Shane-Carmen and the quinceañera dress in there, too. And I loved when I kissed Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99. VERY ROMANTIC.
Thanks to the season finale of Gentleman Jack, I’ve got a new set of romantic moments to add: the whole last 20 minutes of this dang episode. Sheesh! Twenty whole minutes of actual solid romantic lesbian screentime? It’s honestly a miracle. We don’t get too many chances to kiss in the rain — even our sweetest onscreen couples are more often split apart by stray bullets, divergent job opportunities, and umm … our networks being canceled. So excuse me if I couldn’t believe that we got two full, romantic resolutions for our heroes, Anne and Ann.
Yes, a wilted and road-weary, but Dane-beloved, Anne Lister is interrupted while screaming at the sky by Ann Walker, once driven to self-harm but now fighting for autonomy. Our Ann(e)s stand on the rolling hills near a caved-in coal mine and declare their love back and forth, and it is certainly swoon-worthy, with Anne being hilarious and bombastic and awkward as she talks about her trip abroad and Ann being sweet and vulnerable and kind as she basically admits she woulda tried to marry a dude and march in the straight-pride parade, but she saw her sister’s life and found out straight people have problems, too.
Right before they seal their actually real-this-time engagement, we get a bit of Anne Lister dialogue that makes this whole series worthwhile for me: “Don’t hurt me; I’m not as strong as you think. Well, I am obviously. But sometimes I’m not.” God, that’s good. It’s perfectly butch and masculine-of-center and soft and feminine, and it’s completely how I feel every moment of my life. Especially delivered at this moment, when we’ve gotten to know Anne and her giant travel thermometer and her charm with women and business savvy, and seen those same positive traits blow up in her face again and again. We see that she wants to survive and thrive, and also that she wishes it was all just a little less difficult.
Me too, Anne. Me too.
And then! After this big, triumphant hilltop kiss, the episode keeps going. This literally never happens. We never see past the two dudes reconnecting at the end of Moonlight. That’s why I’m giving “Are You Still Talking?” five fucking stars. Because we get to go to church with Anne and Ann, we get to see them take the sacrament and commit to each other privately.
The furtive glances, meaningful touches, and great Anne-jacket moments are also intercut with the public spectacle that is Pigmurderer’s wedding. Our gentle soul who had to kill his father takes a wife, and it’s a happy thing, except as it’s paired with these two wives who are older, have debatably dealt with even more (pig) shit, and must keep their vows under wraps for fear of being ostracized or worse.
Viewers get the ending we wanted for the show’s main characters without those characters being placed out of harm’s way or imagined into a better history. Pose does this well, but the point of that show isn’t for one central character to find love; there’s a lot more to resolve for many more characters. That’s also something that makes this show unique right now, and why I wanted to write about it to begin with — I love queerness being brought into ensemble casts and ensemble casts that are all queer, and I wanted to see what HBO and Sally Wainwright, Gentleman Jack’s creator, would bring to a story about one queer, trying to find their way.
As of the finale, what they brought was hope that our happiest moments as a culture and as individuals will be as centered as our struggles. That we’ll get great monologues and beautiful, central romances. That our babies will not be put in corners, because we came here tonight because we realized we wanted to spend the rest of our life with somebody, and wanted the rest of our lives to start as soon as possible. We got goddamned good Kate Winslet–level romance.
A second season of Gentleman Jack? As you wish. As I wish too, actually.