I am writing this as a fan. Someone who loves a great story. Great actors. Great flow. I can recognize when something isn’t working. I can call out my favorite shows. Even with some faults (all shows have faults), I believe Emmerdale has been great this year. Now, everyone is allowed to have an opinion. Everyone can feel how they feel and that’s that.
Here is how I feel. Take it or leave it.
Now I’m breaking this down into sections. What I see the most on social media when it comes to the show, Robron, and Iain MacLeod. Get some coffee and a snack. This is a long look at Emmerdale and fandom (from my point of view).
The Show as A Whole
Emmerdale is finally being written as, “A Day in the Life in a Village.” Everyone is interacting. No one is really in their story corners anymore. People are mingling. They are reacting. People are interconnected. That makes it a lot more fun. The girls going out to the club. Rhona and Pete are getting closer. Charity is helping Tracy while facing her own past. These characters would have never interacted three years ago. If you look back and watch the episodes back, then (three or four years ago) everyone was in their corners. Not really interacting. Now, we have a real village feel.
The cinematography has been great. I’m getting so much ‘unsaid’ moments this year and it makes me understand character motivations a lot better. Less telling and more showing. I know some might disagree or say that I’m reading into things, but let’s look at what happened today.
The two-shot of Liv and Gabby. Rewatch it if you must. The slow push in as the judge spoke. The fact they dressed Liv in all black. Her side had a slight shadow on her. Painting her in a darker light. Gabby, meanwhile, had more light and her clothes were brighter. That subconsciously told me how this would end. They both were in the same position, their hands folded on the table, but they were in very different places emotionally. Especially in the judge’s eyes.
The scene with Charity after she tells all to Vanessa about her past. They shoot her sitting on her bed in her bedroom. They shot her from way above. That tells me she feels small. The random dingy stuffed animals might hint at innocence lost. It was telling and gave me more information that dialogue wouldn’t.
I’ve been slightly in awe of how great the crew has been on this show and makes me appreciate all the effort they put in.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about is how Iain keeps using the same plots repeatedly. Yes, the tropes are the same. As in every soap. It’s the characters that change the game. Just because the plot is the same doesn’t mean things will run the same way. The characters actions change things. I’d wait to judge a storyline before it airs. You might be pleasantly surprised. Going into a storyline with an open might can do wonders for one’s enjoyment of the show. I’m someone that would prejudge a story before it aired and I found it ruined the show for me. Keeping an open mind can change a lot. That’s just how I feel right now, and you don’t have to agree. That’s just my opinion.
The show finally gave us a villain that they so desperately needed. I don’t consider Lachlan, a villain. Not the kind I want in a soap. Sometimes all soaps need a villain that is one-dimensional. Someone to shake things up. Screw with some settled characters. Yes, I know Robert and Aaron have just gotten settled, but I’ll speak more about that below in another section. Joe and his arrival with Graham has given us a villain to hate. Someone we can’t possibly feel conflicted about. Sometimes we all need a good villain to root against. Someone for the audience to bond over. Their hatred of this character. I’m glad Joe showed up. Let’s see what they do with him once he is done upsetting the status quo.
The show isn’t perfect, but I am really enjoying it right now. I have let go of all my anger (I let go, but I don’t forget the anger), and I am enjoying the plot and where it takes me. Sometimes we all just need to breathe, reboot and wait to see where a story takes us. It is a soap opera. A lot can change on a soap opera.
Robron (and Family)
Since Robron’s reunion, they have been doing what I expected. They have settled in. They are communicating. They are trying to create their family on a much better foundation. This time around Robert and Aaron are much different. They are there for each other. They listen. They care. They are a family now. A family that would do anything for each other. We weren’t getting that in 2016. That version of Robron wasn’t ready for the house, the family and facing difficulties together. Their foundation was cracked. Looking back in 2017, it hurt. It hurt a lot. However, there were reasons for the hurt. It built Robert up to be better. He went through hell and back and learned something from it. Same with Aaron. Aaron worked on his mental health with a therapist. He went on a vacation. He tried to move on with another type of guy. Aaron and Robert got to burn to the ground and build back up stronger individuals so when they were ready to join forces, they were even stronger than before. The tools are there, and they are using them.
Sure, there will be setbacks. Aaron will do something stupid. Robert will make the wrong decision, but it’s on for their own self-interest. It’s for their family, and they are protecting each other. That’s what I am here for. These two stronger individuals working together. They are a family now, and I hate to break this to some people, but they are one of the healthier couples on the show. I know. Amazing considering their past. They needed that break to realign. It hurt, and some are still hurting, but it was for the best. Story and character wise. I see it as Iain MacLeod fixing Kate Oates mistakes with them.
I think that is why the show has attached Joe to them. Some can’t see why Joe would go after Robert. I personally do see a connection. Joe is a watered-down wannabe Robert. He isn’t fully formed yet. He has money and a bodyguard (that feels owes him) and a company but no heart. No real family. No real love. Since he doesn’t have that he must be better than guys who do have that. Robert is one of those guys. He has it all. He has the husband, the family, the business, and love. So, let’s go after him and destroy that. Bring him down to his level, and then he can rise above. Joe is a villain that thinks he can take on a former villain. Good luck Joe. You are dealing with Robert, Aaron, and The Dingles. He will win battles but never the war.
I know people seem to think because Robron doesn’t kiss as much as Vanity or Laurel/Bob, they aren’t looking at the context. Robron are not in their honeymoon stage. They aren’t in affair mode. They are settled. They are old marrieds who need a nap or two. I personally don’t need them all over each other to know they love each other. Actions speak louder than words. All the times they protect each other and are there for each other say a lot more to me than stolen kisses on a couch in the back of the pub. Would I like to see a kiss or two? Yeah but I know its coming. They have big things on the horizon, and if we all can have some patience and faith, we will be seeing it.
I say, when some of you get caught in the negative feedback loop that is social media, sit back. Read some good fanfiction. Think up how the wedding will go down. Think of how Liv will get out of her sticky situation. Come up with fun Gerry related events. Instead of staying angry over things you can’t change, think of all the good that is coming for the couple in the future.
Ah. The thorniest of the thorns in fandoms side. I’ll clarify here and now. I don’t like her. I never will. She can save the whole village, and I will roll my eyes at her. I think what frustrates me now is what they are doing with her. I have made my peace with last year. It happened. Nothing can change that. I still hate it, but I refuse to stay in that negative frame of mind anymore. In my eyes, she lost big time. She wanted her family to burn, she wanted Robert, and she wanted the family money. What did she get? Her family (who she decided she suddenly cared about) died at another family members hand, Robert never loved her and never will, and the family has some money but not the millions she expected. She lost it all, and that’s a good start to me. Now she has a permanent brain injury. Something the show went out of their way to tell us won’t have an easy way out. She has this for life. She is changed.
That is where I get frustrated. I expected the show to do something with her. Reset her character. Rebuild differently. Something. Right now, she is being used as plot devices for Ross, Lachlan, and Debbie. We are just waiting for the Lachlan storyline to explode at this point. In the meantime, she is playing a comedy routine in the pub. Which is frustrating because its just…she is dead weight in my eyes.
By the way, Robron have no ties to her. Just Seb and that is thin at best. For once she is being shown far away from them. Which signals that plot device is over. Some need to remember that and remember it’s not 2017 anymore. That story has passed and as the Twitter account said, “That is not the story we are telling.”
Either have her kill off Lachlan, Lachlan kills her off or something. Something needs to change. Right now she is just there. Staring off into the abyss is dead weight. I can’t wait to see this plot device move on.
Iain Macleod VS Kate Oates
I lied. He might be the thorniest of the thorns in certain parts of fandom. I don’t hate Iain or Kate. I think both have their positives and negatives. I just like Iain’s Emmerdale more than Kate’s. I wrote this out (after I had a few mind you) but someone asked me on Tumblr to compare the two. So, here it is. There is more I would like to add, but this is getting too long already.
Kate Oates is good at dark, dramatic story. The ones that, if one thing is done wrong, the whole storyline is over. For instance, Bethany’s Grooming storyline was done beautifully. As is the start of David’s rape story. She knows how to hit the right beats and promote social issues in significant ways, so it grabs the attention of not only the fanbase but the general audience as well. That is great. On Emmerdale, she did this with Edna and her inability to pay for heat or food. Elderly not being able to afford the cost of living is a real problem in the United States (where I live) but the UK as well. I could argue her Woolpack Siege is part of the dark, dramatic story but didn’t have a social issue involved. It didn’t have a great buildup, but once Cameron came out with the gun, there was this slow build up to Debbie/Cameron/Chas. She compared that human build up to the building filling with water about to explode. If I remember correctly the building exploded right when the triangle exploded. It was great television and had a lot of great writing, direction and camera work. This covers the big helicopter crash that had a big build up with multiple characters involved. Same with the ‘Who Shot Robert?’ storyline that borrowed from a famous Hitchcock movie but it still surprised people.
What Doesn’t Work
Even though I said she is good at the big dramatic story, she tends to make everything dark. She has trouble with comedy plots. She tries, but it just doesn’t happen. For instance, on Coronation Street, Liz and Eileen hiding out in the toilets to avoid an annoying person were meant to be funny. Also, Gemma (the resident comedy plot who I adore) was recently attacked by Fitz for sleeping with Tyrone. Instead of it being dramatic they tried to make it funny, and it just left me hating everyone but Gemma because Fitz has no right to throw stuff and grab Gemma for something she let her boyfriend get away with. Her idea of light and funny doesn’t exist. During her reign on Emmerdale that happened too. There was an imbalance of comedy to dark. She had Alicia sexually abused, Adam cheated on Victoria and Ross shot Robert because Andy paid him to do it. So much fun.
Also, I’m writing this here. She had a ton of cheating during her reign of Emmerdale and currently Corrie. So, the whole argument of Iain only does cheating storylines falls apart instantly since all showrunners use cheating. Even Kate Oates has used a cheating trope the wrong way. Tyrone/Gemma ring a bell? Aiden and Maria? Come on now. She planned to kill off Robert and just make him a one-dimensional character though he was a legacy and Ryan deserved better back then. Thank god fans grew to love him, and he got to stick around long enough to see a different showrunner direct the character.
She also repeats stories. Here is a list of all the stories she is repeating:
1) Kana/Billy and Todd = Robron (Kana is…less than impressive. Billy and Todd’s demise couldn’t be helped)
2) Cameron = Phelan (SIGH)
3) Summer = Liv (Ok…that is less repeating and more trying to compete and complete her new version of Robron. Sorry. I like Summer but Team Liv)
4) Eva/Aiden/Maria = Ross/Debbie/Pete (think about it. Both had terrible people stuck in the middle. One named Debbie and one named Aiden. )
5)Rita (a beloved character) almost dying = Val (actually dying) (I think the fans saved Rita. Those campaigns to keep her around at any cost was intense.)
Those are few I can name off the top of my head. I remember pointing out more with someone, but I lost track. Either way, she has her favorite tropes, or she tries to recreate, and it falls flat…most of the time.
Iain is good at using a shows history in a creative way. Sometimes it easy to just barrel forward and leave your mark by creating new families or new characters and let them squeeze themselves into the canvas. Iain has been using the shows history and building on that history. He did it with Robert and his sexuality and daddy issues. Which did upset long-term viewers since some long-term viewers view Jack as a bit more innocent than he was actually on screen. He recently showed this strength by bringing a beloved family back, The Tates. Using that history (that family has a strong history), he can easily bring back fan favorites while developing a future for them in the village. Joe fits, and because he fits so well, Graham (who he brought with him) fits in as well.
He knows how to mix the village up. For some reason 2017 had everyone in their corners but around November 2017 and beyond the village starting mixing again. People who aren’t in the same storylines still hanging out at the pub together or having a conversation in the pub is happening again. I think Robert being taken out to a club by other characters wouldn’t have happened in 2015 or even 2017, but in 2018 it worked. Everyone was talking and taking advice from each other by that point. The village feels alive again.
He is good at creating new characters. Jessie, Gerry, and Graham are some original characters that have added so much to the village and still have a long future ahead of them. I can see all three characters sticking around for a long time.
I think he has trouble working with characters that he didn’t create, or he can’t draw some history from. That is why direction for The White family has been a bit on the crazy side. Not in a good way. Since The Whites are limited in terms of history, he seems to struggle with what they will be or do next. Which lead to uneven characterization and general confusion. Killing off two seemed to cut down on the confusion but who is left is just hanging out till the next plot point. So, that was horribly done.
He is headstrong. If he wants to see something on screen, we are getting it. He wanted to see Robert with a kid. We have it (I say it worked out ok for now, but it was rough going getting there). He wanted to see some couples broken up and mixed up, so we got Pete and Priya (hot summer romance…not.). He doesn’t look at the bigger picture or long-term effects of storylines. There is quite a bit of 2017 that is full of experiments that just failed miserably.
He loves his favorite plot devices. He loves babies (everyone got a baby last year…and Chas this year.), and he falls back on cheating even when it doesn’t make sense (Laurel/Bob and Priya/Pete) and many more that is abused quite a bit on the show. To the point when we were tired watching.
To tell you the truth, one thing they both are good at is getting viewers to watch, comment and freak out over the show. Both shows are consistently neck and neck in the ratings and have created their own little corner of the soap world that is getting both Corrie and Emmerdale noticed internationally. Both have many faults, but they have done a lot of good as well. They understand social issues, and how to relate those issues to their audience. One would argue both have gotten attention from a younger viewer base than former showrunners. However, right now…I like where both are for the time being. I think Kate Oates needs to stay at Corrie and people need to recognize that 2018 has been better than 2017 for Iain MacLeod. He is learning, slowly, from his mistakes of 2017. So, let’s keep everyone in place for the time being. For my sanity.
I think it’s easy to stay negative. It is easy to hate everything before it can hurt you. I get it. 2017 Emmerdale was rough. It hurt. I was bitter. Angry. I have all my reviews and theories to prove that. However, now that I can see the faults and the good, I am willing to let go of the past and move forward. Doesn’t mean I won’t be unhappy with the show but I don’t think it’s the worst show in history or constantly disappointing me. I’m willing to go for the ride and try not to judge too soon. I think Robron has a lot of good coming. A lot of hard times but they are stronger and won’t make the same mistakes again. I think the characters being mixed about is great. I think there is a lot that will develop with Joe that will make us happy.
Its ok if you are negative or upset. I just hope you don’t stay there for long. See the humor in situations and try to see the good instead of only seeing bad. Don’t take this as me telling some to lighten up or anything. This is just my opinion and how I approach the shows most talked about topics. I hope you see the good soon and I’ll see you around Emmerdale.