With perfect timing in the middle of Women’s History Month which in the US follows Black History Month. comes a powerfully emotional period TV series The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Someone described it as a lesbian Bridgerton but apart from the fact that it is set in the Georgian Period and has more black characters than one would expect, it is totally different.
It starts at a dramatic high point with two violent murders being discovered in the Belham’s rather grand household. The master’s body is found in his study, whilst his wife’s very bloody body is found in her bed that she is sharing with Frannie Langton her black ‘secretary/maid/lover’ who is unwittingly fast asleep. A very shocked Frannie is whisked off and thrown in Newgate jail as she insists on claiming her innocence. However, she is addicted to laudanum and so, she is telling all and sundry that she has no recollection of anything at all.
The story is then told in a series of flashbacks which very slowly shed light on how Frannie came to be in London in the first place, and why/how she appeared to be both very articulate and intelligent way beyond what anyone would expect of her.
This is a time in England after Abolition, but before it was illegal to own slaves Frannie is a former slave from Jamaica who is given by her original master, Langton, to the Benham family as a kind of indentured servant, although personally, she feels that she should be treated like the free woman she is.
This mini-series was adapted by Jamaican writer Sara Collins from her own gothic love novel and has several different layers which both make for compelling viewing. but also are a tad confusing at times. It demands your full attention to keep up with all the twists and turns of the plot, most of which are quite unexpected.
One of the main reasons that the show is so compelling is the pitch-perfect performance of Karla-Simone Spence in the lead role who simply radiates in such a way it is impossible to take our eyes off her. The cast also includes experienced veteran actors like Stephen Campbell Moore, Sophie Clarkson (Moore’s real-life wife) Steven Mackenzie, and Jodhi May but we are aware that Spence is THE star.
Collins makes an illuminating case on how tough it is to be black in the UK in the 19th Century and a woman to boot, plus she touches on some of the nefarious practices that English plantation owners imposed on their slaves. Equally important is the fact that period queer stories in themselves are a rarity, but Frannie Langton shows that they can work, and hopefully will lead the way to more.
Currently, you are able to watch "The Confessions of Frannie Langton" streaming on ITVX, Britbox Apple TV Channel , BritBox, BritBox Amazon Channel.
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad
Labels: 2023, ITV X, Karla-Simone Spence, period drama, review, Sara Cooke, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, TV series