Over the last few weeks, thanks to Netflix Instant, Matt and I have become addicted to Ballykissangel, a BBC comedic drama series set in a fictional Irish town that spanned the last half of the 1990s. Last week, I wanted to write a post about how we were in love with this show and how it had one of the most compelling TV romances I’ve encountered in a long time. But I couldn’t find the time and since then we’ve gone through a whole ‘nother season and now I’m going to tell you about the love/hate relationship I’ve developed with it instead. Warning: there be spoilers here.
Man, people. This show. It lures you in with its quirky charm and fun “Irish Stars Hollow” vibe, and then just when you’re comfortably convinced that it’s nothing but a light-hearted romantic dramedy, and just as the romantic part gets amped up to awesome, it turns on you, sucker-punching you in the gut with almost Whedonesque proportions of angst and pain and tragedy and death.
Imagine if right after Luke and Loralei got together, Luke fell off a ladder and broke his neck. While Loralei was holding the ladder. That’s what this show does to you.
And then imagine if, while you were still in mourning for Luke and Loralei, Sookie started to cheat on Jackson and treat him like crap, and then decided to leave him... right before Jackson fell off another ladder and broke his neck, leaving Sookie a guilt-ridden widow who’s already exhausted all of the sympathy you were able to muster for her.
It wouldn’t be so hard to take, I think, if Ballykissangel were always that kind of show; an action show, or a mystery, a la Lost or anything from Joss Whedon, or even a straight-up drama, where that kind of tragedy and dramatic interpersonal BS is simply woven into the fabric of the story and you expect bad things to happen. But this isn’t that kind of show, until suddenly it is. Which, I guess, is more true to life than something like Northern Exposure, to which it often gets compared, which I suppose is the point. Still, getting the rug yanked out from under you like that becomes tiring fast (we just started the 5th season, which begins with another death of another beloved character, combined with the character assasination of yet another). It’s getting to the point where the only reason to keep watching this show is the presence of a very young and pretty Colin Farrel.
All of that said, I heartily recommend the first three seasons. It has a romantic pairing that set my little ‘shippy heart all a-flutter and actually made me want to seek out fanfic, something I haven’t done since I managed to nix my Spuffy fic addiction. Of course, I don’t actually have time to read fanfic (or much of anything else) these days, so I looked for fan videos instead. I recommend you stop watching Season 3 as soon as things start to get good for this couple and come back and watch this Peter and Assumpta fan vid instead, and pretend with me that they ran away together to get married and have tiny, tiny babies and live happily ever after, amen.