Recently, thanks to the delightful “2017 Austen Men in Film” Calendar, I have gotten into the BBC One series Poldark.
If you haven’t binge-watched this series, I suggest you drop everything and do so at once. Seriously. Go watch!
Poldark is a love story, but it’s different than most love stories you see on TV. The usual pattern for love stories is boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again. This one is different because it’s boy gets girl, and then girl and boy have to figure out how to make this work. The real romance starts after the wedding.
Ross Poldark is the hero of the series, but he’s far from perfect. He’s stubborn. He can be terribly insensitive. At one time he says, “My idiocy has been spectacular,” and nobody watching would deny it. He has his good points (looking gorgeous without a shirt on is a real plus), but he might not be your first choice for a permanent life partner.
His wife, Demelza, is also far from perfect.
She can be rash and impetuous, sometimes interfering in other people’s lives without their knowledge or consent. She’s stubborn and she has a fearsome temper. Though she too has multiple good points (gotta love that backhand!) I’m not sure I would ever trust her with a secret that absolutely had to be kept.
And yet somehow we viewers find ourselves cheering for this unlikely couple. We accept that this imperfect, flawed pair are better when they are together than when they are apart. Ross shows Demelza that her actions can have unintended consequences. Demelza makes Ross confront and overcome the worst parts of his character. Together they face unimaginable joys, challenges, and heartbreaks, and although they clash fiercely at times their feelings for each other are never in doubt.
This is where love gets real. It’s not in the boxes of candy or teddy bears on Valentine’s Day, nor is it the elegant dinners or other grand gestures. It’s the moments when we and our significant others recognize and accept each other wholeheartedly, warts and all.
Ross tells Demelza at one point that if an idealized, untouchable, perfect love is taken down to the level of an imperfect, human, real love, it is not the real love that suffers. That is a love that we can all appreciate, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
If you’ve watched any part of Poldark, I’d love to hear from you!