One of the things that thrills me most about last night’s episode of Holby City, to the point where I’m not even feeling the burn of the angst or the heartache, is that this character is so consistent, that Bernie’s actions make such sense with what we know about her, that in hindsight it feels as if what happened could not possibly have gone differently (of course it’s always possible, I know, but it feels that way to me).
She can be very gung ho and just jump right in
But she is also someone who will take the consequences of her actions
And who will follow through
We know she’s not ashamed of who she loves but of the pain she’s caused
We know that she’s afraid of showing her feelings and hides behind English reserve
We know she wonders if the inevitable pain of a relationship ending is worth having the relationship in the first place
We know she thinks moving too fast at the beginning of a relationship increases the inevitability of that pain
We know she cares about Serena
We know she doesn’t want to hurt Serena
She is used to making decisions about everything on her own (even if she is getting better at that… at work)
So her kissing Serena the first time makes perfect sense (gung ho). But she’s not oblivious of other people’s feelings so then hanging back to see Serena’s response makes sense. Her responding with care to Serena’s discomfort and trying to give her as much space as possible, holding her own feelings back (British reserve) the next day they see each other, in hopes of making it better, also makes sense. Her taking the secondment (moving too fast) makes sense.
She just wants to get this right! And she wants to get it right because she wants to minimize the chances of EITHER of them getting hurt, she’s trying to be smart this time because she is FULLY invested.
And you know what? The reason I am so stunned by a character acting in character is because I apparently don’t watch shows in which this happens with any consistency. What I am used to, is characters being used for the plot, sacrificed for other characters’ development, is actions that feel out of left field, and erratic character development. Not a character being built with care and a steady hand over 35 episodes to the point where the angst makes me happy because it feels like it is exactly right for WHO SHE IS!
And you know what else? This fabulous character IS GAY! THIS IS A GAY MIDDLE AGED BAMF WOMAN WHO IS GETTING ALL THIS CARE FROM THE SHOW MAKERS IN HOW SHE’S BUILT AND TREATED!!!
Ugh, and now I’m crying.
Well, and let me tell you, I did not see any of this coming when I started watching. I mean: HOLBY. CITY. Who would’ve thunk? Brought to my knees by an 18 year running medical drama. Thank you.
100 Favorite TV Characters (in no particular order):
Elle Bishop (played by Kristen Bell) - Heroes
“I accidentally set my grandmother’s house on fire when I was six. Caused a blackout in four counties in Ohio when I was eight. I spent my ninth birthday in a glass room with an IV of lithium in my arm. I’ve lived in this building for sixteen years, ever since the shrinks diagnosed me as a sociopath with paranoid delusions - but they were just out to get me because I threatened to kill ‘em. I’m 24 years old and I’ve never gone on a date. Never been on a roller coaster, never been swimming. And now you know everything there is to know about me. I don’t have the luxury of being more interesting than that.”
It occurred to me when posting my Contents Under Pressure comments a while back that some people might’ve wondered why Monty and Jasper weren’t in that episode. And you might have felt that way yourself, watching your favorite TV show – like, say, The 100 – and noticing that a character you like isn’t in the episode, driving you to social media to say “Where was A?” or “Why wasn’t B in the ep?”
The reason why is some TV biz inside baseball with blah terms like contracts and budgets that might not be interesting to you, so feel free to stop reading now. I won’t be offended, I promise.
For most TV shows including The 100, actors are contracted to appear in a certain number of episodes per season. Some actors are “all episodes produced” – they’re in every ep – while others appear in X out of Y episodes, where Y is the total episode order. In both cases the contracts are typically “pay or play,” meaning the actor is paid for the episodes in question whether or not they appear in them. If a character is played by an all-episodes-produced actor and that character isn’t in the ep, the actor still gets paid their full fee. As you can imagine, money spent on nothing is something to avoid: TV shows have limited funds.
In the case of characters played by actors on fractional contracts (X out of Y episodes), most typically the character is rested for the “off” episodes. They may be referenced in dialogue to keep them alive in the story. Sometimes the budget will allow a character to have extra episodes, but often not.
So as writers, we have to balance an actor’s availability with story needs for their character, the episode, and the season: we want all characters to be used to their best effect with full, complete stories–while not breaking the bank.