Brit Fix: Bob & Rose, A Quiet, Careful, Love Story
When Bob & Rose, a six-part mini series written by the much-lauded Russell T. Davies (Queer As Folk, Dr. Who) hit the airwaves courtesy of ITV in 2001 it was met with instant controversy. This wasn’t fair, but it was far from surprising. The story, simply put, is about a gay man who falls in love with a straight woman. I’m not even gay and I can understand how on the surface, without watching the show, one’s hackles can immediately go up – it’s the same way I could empathize when Cynthia Nixon called being a gay a choice. It makes the notion of sexual identity seem facile and inconsequential, not meritorious of serious thought. However, this initial controversy was almost immediately head-butted by another – bisexuals were pissed at homosexuals for implying that they take gender and sexuality lightly.
It was terrain that Davies, as an out gay man, was all too familiar with, and it is his awareness of the potential furor the story could ignite, and his instance on telling the story anyway that speaks to his confidence in the beauty of the story he was telling. Bob & Rose is just a story about two people falling in love and the various hurdles they have to jump in order to be together successfully. That one half of this duo used to only date men is simply one more hurdle.
What could be read as a glib or sensationalist fades away almost from moment one. Bob and Rose are such unique and specifically crafted characters – so perfectly well-matched for each other. Rose, a ball-buster who speaks her mind and is seldom swept away by passion and Bob an intelligent, stubborn, fool for love. They are neither of them supermodels, and they bring with them the baggage that fills out the entire six-episode arc (Parental discord for him, A Pride and Prejudice-inspired marriage subplot and a devastated ex boyfriend for her.)
The most striking aspect of the series for me, is the plots reliance on a set of very identifiable human actions. Good people cheat on their partners sometimes, sane people quasi-stalk someone they are peripherally interested in. It is in revealing these all-too-human foibles to each other that, not only is the plot advanced, but are our heroes true natures revealed, they are made vulnerable, and in that vulnerability totally loveable.
I could maybe write about this show for close to a million years. It’s really important to me for a variety of a reasons. Before I go, let me tell you one more – the subplot of Bob’s best friend Holly Vance. Holly is played by the ALWAYS AND WITHOUT EXCEPTION (THOUGH WE COULD DEBATE ABOUT CONFETTI IF YOU WANT) Jessica Stevenson. Playing the college friend who has been deeply and obsessively in love with Bob, a man she can never have, Holly is like an entirely sympathetic Iago. You watch her countless attempts to thwart the lovers and while you curse her meddling and her obsession, the other half of you is rooting for her – clean up your house, Holly! Get a life Holly! If you watch the series and decide to watch only Holly’s scene (which I totally admit to having done) you get a picture perfect study in the definition of dynamic. Girlfriend creates a character human enough to believably change from Iago to Ariel. Well worth the watch.
Do you have a recommendation for Brit Fix? Let us know in the comments!