Gentleman Jack Deserves All of the Emmy Awards

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister on Gentleman Jack
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister on Gentleman Jack. Photo courtesy of HBO.

Well, it’s almost September and you know what that means, the Emmys are almost here! With the full list of nominations officially announced, there are shows that rightfully got nominated, but there were also worthy shows that were ignored by the academy. Every year, there are always many shows that get snubbed. A lot of genre shows get ignored, especially the superhero ones, and certain networks are consistently shut out – the CW and Freeform among them. The show I want to talk about, however, is an HBO show, and one that under different circumstances, could’ve been an awards contender. I’m referring to Gentleman Jack.

If you haven’t seen it, Gentleman Jack is about lesbians in the 19th century English countryside. No kidding. It’s based on the real-life extensive journals of Anne Lister. Played brilliantly by Suranne Jones, Anne is a lesbian who is searching for someone she can settle down with – her girlfriends keep getting married to men. While visiting home in between her travels, she meets Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle), a beautiful, rich, and single woman. The two instantly make a connection, and a love affair ensues.

There are ways in which one might think that this show could be awards-bait. It’s got an interesting, unique premise, with a strong lead. It’s also aired on a powerful network that tends to get nominations for its major shows. So what happened here? Well, I think it might just be a little too niche. While critics loved it, not as many people watched it. Contrast that with the HBO fan-favorite shows airing this summer, like Euphoria or Big Little Lies. They’re on everyone’s lips, and it will carry them into the Emmys a year from now when they are eligible.

But. That doesn’t mean Gentleman Jack doesn’t deserve to be nominated. It’s by far one of the best new shows I’ve watched this year. Jones delivers an unparalleled performance that deserves an award for acting without a doubt. She embodies Miss Lister, and sweeps us into her world. Rundle also gives an extremely strong performance in a supporting role. As Miss Walker sways between bliss and shame, and even a touch of madness, Rundle makes us feel every moment of it. The pair make us feel for their characters, root for them, and sympathize with their struggles. It’s not easy to be a lesbian in the 1800’s, but Miss Lister never stops fighting for the possibility of a future with the person she loves.

The show is really well done. Being a period piece, the costumes are, of course, fantastic, it is beautifully shot, and the score is sensational (that end credits song is wonderful, and I’ve thankfully found it on Apple Music). The entire cast delivers strong performances, the tactical war between Miss Lister and the Rawsons keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Ok so it’s niche. It’s a period piece about lesbians, I get it (although that worked for Oscar best picture nominee The Favourite). But if the buzz for it really got going, I think a lot of people would really love it, and could maybe one day carry it into awards season.

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Author: Linda Maleh

Entertainment writer, feminist, and New York City native. Personal blog is tvtotalkabout.com.

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