Thursday night BBC 2 aired the third and final episode of its contemporary political drama ‘The Politician’s Husband’ starring David Tennant and Emily Watson as a married couple with high ambitions in the microcosm of Westminster politics.
After ‘Broadchurch’ (see this post to read about my thoughts on that one) I was curious to see what Tennant would make of this role. I hadn’t really read anything about the storyline beforehand, so when the first episode played out as it did I was pretty surprised. Some people might say the title of the show was a suggestion as to how things would go but I certainly didn’t see it coming. That said, though, it was really enjoyable to watch Freya basically outwitting her husband and becoming her own person as opposed to the pawn in his powerplay.
The beginning of the second episode seems to be quite ambiguous among TV critics and viewers. Alison Graham, TV editor at the Radio Times, writes that in her opinion rape and, as in this case, especially marital rape doesn’t belong on a freeview channel. The comments to her article show that even though quite a few of her readers agree with her, there’s also the odd disagreeing voice among them and I am one of those as well. If we can have murder, child abuse, suicide and other deeds depicting the darkest depths of the human soul on TV on a daily basis, then why should we shun something that occurs just as frequently in real life – even if behind closed doors and not as openly discussed – as the other things I mentioned? Just because it makes us uncomfortable to watch doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shown. I’m sure there were times when watching a psychopath torturing his victim before killing it off made us uncomfortable, too, but did we ban those plots from our TV screens? No? So there.
‘The Politician’s Husband’ shows how a woman rises from the shadows of her husband to becoming a powerful figure in her own right, though at first it is by a mere coincidence which no one expected. It all comes at a price, though, and for me it was much more uncomfortable than watching that rape scene to watch the scenes where Aidan and Freya play the happy couple and they are so good at it that the viewer almost believes it’s not an act at all. But then you see the underlying hostility and distrust between them in their eyes and you realize that even when they are at their strongest, most united point in the storyline, which is right at the end of the final episode, it’s all just superficial and nothing has really been resolved between them. For me this final scene is all about that saying “Keep your friends close but your enemies even closer” and it’s just really sad to watch how this marriage that seemed so strong and happy and genuine at the beginning of the first episode turns into this farce. At some point in either the second or the third episode Freya asks her husband “Love without respect, is that even possible?”. I think by the end of the third episode their relationship has sadly changed to respect without love.
However, even though I was saddened by how it all played out for their marriage and their relationship, as a woman it was certainly very entertaining and satisfying for me to watch how Aidan’s pathetic scheming backfired and he got his just deserts in the end, having to yield the real power to his wife. 🙂
What really bugged me throughout the episodes, though (and I know it’s nitpicking and doesn’t really take away anything from the plot and the acting, which was brilliant, but still), is that a) the entire show seemed like an advert for Apple (iPhones galore, an iMac in the office, a Macbook on the kitchen counter, an iPad on the nightstand… Did Tim Cook write the script or what?) and b) the aforementioned iPhones kept ringing loudly throughout the episodes and almost every time when the call’s recipient picked them up they were ALWAYS set to silent mode and the little orange thingy on the side was clearly visible. Hello, editing department? Are you familiar with iPhones at all?
Yes, I’ll shut up now. 😉