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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Never heard of him

In George Orwell’s 1984, the dictatorial regime ruling Oceania requires its minions to drop documentation of inconvenient historical facts down the “memory hole,” the better to pretend that the party line is eternal and unchanging.

Jane Austen’s world is a long way from Orwell’s, but the memory hole came to mind recently when I happened across PBS’s latest publicity for its loosely-inspired-by-Austen costume drama Sanditon, whose second season begins airing in March.

Last year, as you’ll recall, Sanditon was ignominiously canceled after Season 1 drew lukewarm reviews and mediocre audience numbers. But the passionate online #SanditonSisterhood, desperate for a happy ending to the stormy romance between heroine Charlotte Heywood and her love interest Sidney Parker, lobbied the network to revive the show. In May, the fandom’s wish was granted – except that Theo James, the exceedingly good-looking actor who played Sidney, declined to reup.

Luckily, PBS’s publicity mavens are on the case! And thus it is that last week we were treated to a sneak peek at “The New Men of Sanditon” – all of whom, it would appear, are moderately-to-very hot.

(And all of whom sound vaguely familiar to any dedicated Austen reader. There’s the anti-social rich guy – see under “Darcy, Mr.” The worldly enigma – Henry Crawford. The self-assured colonel – as in Brandon. The regimental underlings flirting with the heroine’s younger sister: paging Lydia Bennet and her admirers in the militia.)

Curiously unmentioned in this breathless account of “intrigue, excitement and romance ahead!” are the intrigue, excitement, and romance that we experienced last season, all of which revolved around a completely different hottie.

Sidney who? Down the memory hole he goes.


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