I’m a fan of the Irish television series Ballykissangel. But I like all those kinds of shows because they are focused on something that we in the modern world have very little of: community. My community, off the internet, really consists of only three people: tens, hundreds, and thousands of miles away. That would be sad enough for me, but I’m afraid I’m fairly common in that regard. So if I can’t have much in the way of personal interactions, at least I can watch stories about characters who do.
I just watched an episode from the second series, “Only Skin Deep.” It has a subplot that is right out of Shakespeare. But I mean that in a good way for a change. Siobhan and Brendan have been friends forever. The local capitalist, Brian, is pushing a beauty pageant to get more tourist dollars for the area (he is also doing his usual machinations, but that doesn’t especially matter here). Siobhan is not happy about this and she is in the bar ranting about beauty pageants, “They’re just glorified cattle markets.” At that moment, Brian walks in and cruelly tells her, “What do you know about beauty contests? Let’s face it, it’s a long time since you qualified for a beauty contest of any kind — if ever!”
Siobham leaves the bar, humiliated. Brendan goes by her house later that night to check on her. They are both very drunk and they have sex. Brendan sneaks away in the morning, thinking he’s made a terrible mistake — ruining their friendship. In fact, Siobham thinks it is a one-off so he needn’t worry. Meanwhile, as the two of them don’t talk, Brian leaves a bouquet of flowers with a card at Siobham’s door to apologize for his rude remarks. Siobham finds it later, but the card is dropped without her noticing it. So she thinks they are from Brendan. Thus, the two friends have the idea that the other is taking their drunken romp more seriously than they actually are. It is an example of perfect farce plotting.
The story is paid off very late when Brendan tries to tell Siobham that they should stay friends. Siobham cuts him off before he can say anything, and tells him the same thing. Then as he stands there stunned and Siobham walks off, Brian passes her going the other direction. She turns around and yells to Brendan, “Thanks for the flowers; they were a lovely thought!” At that point Brendan and Brian and in a two shot. Brendan is mystified, but Brian gets a smile a mile wide.
Now, if I had a bunch of friends, I would have just related that story to them instead of you. But the truth is that I’ve tried to get everyone I know to watch Ballykissangel. But even when I get them to watch the first episode, no one is as charmed as I am. Maybe the problem is that most people are not interested in living in a world with such confused high jinks. Their loss!