• Deborah Yaffe

Back to the beach

May already! Practically swimsuit season – and thus a perfect time to check out the latest news about the two beachiest Jane Austen spinoffs:


* Last week, Searchlight Pictures released its first trailer for Fire Island, the same-sex update of Pride and Prejudice that will arrive on Hulu on June 3. Judging from the nearly four million YouTube views the trailer had racked up a mere three days after dropping, many people – or at least many bots -- are hungry for a gay romcom with a diverse cast, an idyllic setting, and an Austen tie-in.


I’m on board with all of the above, but, alas, I found the trailer charmless and mostly laugh-free. (Although I did giggle when Bowen Yang, apparently playing a Jane Bennet type, remarked sadly, “Way harsh, Tai!” A character in one Jane Austen update quotes a character from another Jane Austen update: This is the definition of meta.)


Here’s hoping that this is the rare trailer that didn’t include all the best parts of the movie.


* Season 2 of Sanditon is dead: Long live Season 3 of Sanditon! Since late March, the miraculously resurrected series based on the novel Austen left unfinished at her death has rebooted itself with a vengeance, ginning up -- count ‘em! – four subplots involving beautiful young women falling for and/or fending off worthless men.


Once again, our chief heroine, Charlotte Heywood, ended the season with a broken heart, as the man she loved left the seaside resort of Sanditon without proposing. Different man each time, of course – you’ll recall that Theo James, who played last season’s hero, declined to return for another go-round, forcing the writers to kill his character off in the opening minutes of Season 2.


But this time, showrunner Justin Young promises in an interview with Salon, a happy ending awaits. And since Seasons 2 and 3 were shot simultaneously, we can feel confident that this time low ratings and co-stars’ career ambitions won’t stand in the way of Charlotte getting her guy.


Do we – or, at least, those among us who are not card-carrying members of the #SanditonSisterhood – actually care? Speaking as a Cardless One, I can say . . . sorta. I found Season 2 a bit better than its predecessor, with fewer occasions on which the characters’ behavior failed to resemble that of actual human beings, but the plotting still seemed cliché-driven. Worse, the writing was limp and witless – which is to say, the very opposite of the source material.


Young, it seems, got there ahead of me. “I would never presume to think we come close to emulating the genius of Jane Austen,” he told Salon. “We are just playing with some of her crayons, really.”


As a far better writer than I once noted, his humility must disarm reproof.

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