Confused High Jinks on Ballykissangel

BallykissangelI’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!

3 replies on “Confused High Jinks on Ballykissangel

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  2. Elizabeth says:

    I love, love, love Ballykissangel! I am fortunate to have a PBS station that plays all UK shows 24/7/365, so I have grown to love many a UK/Aussie show over the last couple of years.

    I can and do watch episodes of BallyK over and over, although I have no great affinity for the last seasons, especially the Father Vincent shows. And I have to struggle through the scenes with Niamh and Sean. I liked Ambrose, Niamh was such a B to him for no good reason, and Sean was just so unattractive that I could never buy Niamh falling for him in such circumstances.

    Liam and Donal, Siobhan and Brendan — such odd “couples” but together every season and add so much to the community of the village and the pub. Brian — the most conniving character but lovable in spite of and for it. And his love and devotion to Niamh and his grandson (a real cutey) provides some of the most touching moments. And the Brian, Liam, and Donal trio always provides some great laughs.

    The Father Clifford/Assumpta relationship was key and vital to the first few seasons. Sometimes touching, often difficult to watch because of their circumstances. But well played. The fact that the two actors actually were in a relationship probably helps the attraction show on screen, too.

    The acting by all in the first few seasons was impeccable and the characters compelling. The rather contrived relationships later on made for less compelling episodes and less sense of community, but still overall a joy to watch.

    As disfunctional as the village and its people could be, it’s the fact of the closeness of the community that enabled the disfunction to ” function.”

    Long live BallyK!!

    Liz

    • Frank Moraes says:

      I like the last 3 seasons well enough. But it is the first 3 that I most love. The relationship between Father Clifford and Assumpta was most important to me. The first episode I saw was “For One Night Only.” And I was hooked. Killing Assumpta made for some nice moment like Clifford’s final confrontation with her husband. But mostly, it just left the show with any hope and it left the pub without any focus. So now I watch the first seasons when I want to be cheered up. But I don’t watch the last 3 seasons, even though they are better than I would have hoped.

      I also agree with you Niamh leaving Ambrose under those circumstances. I didn’t buy it. It was a typical example of getting rid of an actor when the actor quits.

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