Sanditon

Synopsis: Set in the early 1800s, a young woman goes to stay with a wealthy family working to create England’s next big seaside attraction, a town called Sanditon.

Charlotte Heywood, played by Rose Williams
Charlotte Heywood, played by Rose Williams.

Oh Sanditon. What can I say.

This program was bright, colorful, whimsical and fun. The characters were relatable and real to me, even with the two century gap between the show’s setting and now. Charlotte, played by Rose Williams, is the friend I always wanted and Sydney, played by Theo James, is the adversarial love interest we didn’t realize we needed. The romantic arc between Charlotte and Sydney was predictable from their first scene together, but still engaging and worth getting wrapped up in. Also, season 1 ends on a twist for them, so again, worth engaging in.

Other characters I really enjoyed were Lady Denham, the cultured matriarch of the show who was funny and arch. My initial impression was that they were trying to create another Dowager Countess character, but after a few episodes, she held my attention in her own right.

Lady Denham, matriarch of Sanditon
Lady Denham, chief investor and matriarch of Sanditon.

Lady Denham’s niece Esther is a complex character that I started out loving to hate. By mid-season though, she had won my begrudging respect, and I was completely on her side by the end. Her story line has me cheering for her, just as much as I was rooting Syndey and Charlotte.

Characters aside, Sanditon strikes the right cord on several notes. The time in history that the story is set is fascinating and it left me wondering in awe at how far we have come as a society. In some ways they characters had lives are enviably cultured and elegant, while in other ways, stunningly primitive. The famous “bathing machines” featured on the show are little more horse-drawn sheds on wheels that are pulled out into the sea. And there is a scene in which the revolutionary new invention of the shower is demonstrated, much to the suspicion of the characters.

Tom Parker, played by Kris Marshall, walking in front of Sanditon's famous bathing machines.

If I had to be critical, there was one story point that was almost too much (for my husband at least, who watched with me). The story hinges on the wealthy Parker family inviting young Charlotte Heywood to come stay with them after she assists them when their carriage wrecks. She very swiftly becomes quite enmeshed with the family, being involved in intimate family decisions and often being treated as a trusted advisor. It was hard for my husband to accept they had let this seemingly random stranger into the fold so effortlessly. At times, I had to agree with him, but I also felt it worthwhile to ignore that small detail. In my head, I wrote it off as being a practice from a different time.

Syndey Parker, played by Theo James.

Overall, I was genuinely sad when I finished the season. Word right now is that there will not be a second season, which makes the finale truly bittersweet. I recommend Sanditon to everyone, though some of the racier scenes may not be appropriate for younger viewers.